Gen 15:6 - Paul vs James

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Steve Amato, May 17, 2015.

  1. According to Paul, a person is justified by faith alone apart from works, that is, prior to doing any work, a person is justified simply by believing in Jesus.

    Paul made this clear in his statements in Rom 4:2-6

    "if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Gen 15:6) Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works"

    In contrast James view a man as not being justified by faith alone, but is only justified when he adds works to his faith. That is to him salvation is contingent upon faith+works.

    He makes this clear in the second half of the second chapter of his letter. "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Gen 15:6) And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." ?

    Both Paul and James mention Gen 15:6, so both are referring to the same concept of being accounted righteous, what we call "justification". While Paul's argument is contingent upon interpreting Gen 15:6 as being fulfilled right then in Gen 15:6, prior to Abraham's work, James' argument is contingent upon viewing Gen 15:6 as a prediction which was not fulfilled until Gen 22 when Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac (a work), prior to which according to James, his faith was "dead".

    While Protestants attempt to resolve this contradiction by misreading James, and Catholics attempt to resolve this contradiction by misreading Paul, in fact Paul and James have incompatible views concerning requirements for justification.

    Paul, an apostle chosen personally by Jesus Christ, and even agreed upon by James along with the other apostles in Acts 15 as being the apostle to the Gentiles, trumps James, who is not an apostle of Jesus Christ.

    Are there any other opinions concerning Paul and James' interpretation of Gen 15:6?
  2. You're wrong, they don't contradict at all. Both agree, it's all by faith. James points out that one living in faith is moved to do things in faith. Simple.
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  3. There are two different types of justification being talked about here. Paul is talking about how to be justified from sins (i.e. saved). James is not talking about justification from sin, but about how faith produces evidence that it is real through works.

    Looking at the common illustration, which came first: Abraham's belief or his work? First He believed and was declared righteous. Later his belief was tested and proved. When an apple seed germinates, it is immediately an apple tree, even though it does not produce apples right away. But later it proves (justifies) itself by producing apples.

    Salvation is by faith, not works. But true faith will result in works, which proves that you have faith.
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  4. #4 CCW95A, May 17, 2015
    Last edited: May 17, 2015
    Jesus said the "work" that leads to eternal life is believing (having faith in) the one God has sent, which is the Word of God.

    Joh 6:29.. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

    It takes "work" to believe the Word as mans human mind can not grasp it's concepts because it can see, hear, or feel the unseen world.

    The work of faith is what God does. Man's work is to believe, God's work is to do what man is believing for.

    Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    Faith "works" by "love" (God). (Gal 5:6) God alone by himself is love, and his love has been shed into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. God (love) works through man according to his work of faith in believing. Man does not do man's faith, God does. Even Jesus said " I can of my own self do nothing" (John 5:30)
    Later Jesus tells his disciples, "without me you can do nothing..." Jesus always confessed that it was his Father in him who was doing the works.

    Faith without works is dead. If God is not working through a person then that man's faith is dead.
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  5. Not so simple if you deal with the actual content of the epistle in that James says, "a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." So James views works not simply as an indication but a means, indeed a requirement for one's justification.

    And as I pointed both Paul and James are speaking of the same kind of "justification" insomuch as they are both speaking of the justification described in Gen 5:16

    Let me simplify the question so that you will have to deal with the content:

    When in Abraham's life did Paul view Gen 15:6 as fulfilled?
    When in Abraham's life did James view Gen 15:6 as fulfilled?

    Or how about this, according to James, faith without works is dead. So according to James wasn't Abraham's faith "dead" prior to Gen 22, if indeed Gen 5:16 was, according to James not fulfilled until Gen 22?
  6. [QUOTE="CCW95A, post: 406398, member: 13727"
    Faith without works is dead. If God is not working through a person then that man's faith is dead.[/QUOTE]

    So you're saying that after a person believes, their faith is "dead" until they act on it. Thus aren't you saying that a person is not justified by faith. Rather their not justified until they acted on their faith, like getting baptized or doing other such work, which is to say a person must do some work before they are qualified to be saved?
  7. Mans faith comes from the Word which in turn cause's a action to take place. That action is the result of having faith in the Word. The Word of God only "works" when faith believes it to. Man's action is in the "believing part" not in the working. There is a huge difference between what man works is in believing, to what God works because of mans faith.
    True faith in the Word causes God to work through that man. If there is no work of God, then there was no faith.
  8. I want to ask you this: do you believe that the book of James is the word of God...that all of it is the word of God?
  9. No the text itself indicates they were speaking of the same concept of justification. For both quoted Gen 15:6 "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." So both were referring to him being accounted righteous. You're simply making an unsubstantiated proposition in opposition to the text, the burden of proof being on you at this point to substantiate your proposition that "justified" doen't mean "justified".
  10. So that you're saying that Abraham's faith was "dead" until he acted on it. That is essentially what James is saying. But notice what Paul is saying. His whole argument is that Abraham was justified by faith APART FROM WORKS. Thus Paul is saying his faith was not dead. And indeed that he didn't need to add works prior to being justified.
  11. I agree with Martin Luther who said,

    "I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle, and my reasons follow.

    In the first place itis flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works 2:24). It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac (2:20); Though in Romans 4:22-22 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15:6. Although it would be possible to "save" the epistle by a gloss giving a correct explanation of justification here ascribed to works, it is impossible to deny that it does refer to Moses' words in Genesis 15 (which speaks not of Abraham's works but of his faith, just as Paul makes plain in Romans 4) to Abraham's works. This fault proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle." Martin Luther

    I don't agree simply because Martin Luther said it. But I happen to agree with him with regards to the content.
  12. So you're saying that Abraham didn't have faith till he offered up Isaac.
  13. Thank you for giving me your reasons, but you didn't exactly answer my question.

    Do you believe that the book(letter) of James is the Word of God or not?
  14. I do ! See James and the rest of his family all thought Jesus was nuts, moon struck a lunatic. That is until Jesus was raised and straightened James out. James got a good revelation of Jesus and His words and understood the power of words and the tongue very much.

    Mykuhl likes this.
  15. Faith and faith and works... what good is your faith if you don't use it? Faith is faith. I don't know what you want out of this, but claiming the word of God has a contradiction is a monumental error on your part.
    Silk, Mykuhl and Fish Catcher Jim says Amen and like this.
  16. Faith without works is dead no matter what we might think about it. We can not change the Word of God. Abraham's action (work) was in his believing, not in what he did by offering up his son. The offering up of his son was the results of Abraham's faith in the Word of God , not the source of his faith.
    We have a part to play when it comes to causing faith to "work". Faith comes from the Word, which in turn we place right back into the Word from where we received faith from. This is what causes the Word of God to work for us. In other words the Word of God has "power" within itself to bring itself to pass. If I want the Word to work for me, it requires me "extract" faith from the Word so I can put my faith right back into the Word so the Word will work for me.
    Abraham understood this fully.

    Rom 4:20.. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
    Rom 4:21.. fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

    Who is doing the works of faith here? It was not Abraham, but God because of Abraham's faith!!
    Mykuhl likes this.

  17. You seem to be making a mole hill out of a dust bunny here. Faith with out works is dead. We know this.........Now what is works ? Faith works by or through actions....which can be words or seed or both or any other action one must use or stand on. Believing with out wavoring is a work in faith. Faith alone is useless unless acted on.

    Hence show me your faith...Oh I have faith but do nothing and except what ever comes around is NOT faith. So Abraham was justified or considered Righteous through Faith. It does not say only by this one action between God and him and isaac.
  18. Big mistake..........I agree big time ; ) Now then.........
    Why do people get hung up on the word works ? They see it connected to faith and go off the deep end into this big long thing about saved by grace or not works and seem to get out of the ditch on one side of the road to only get in the ditch on the other side.

    Man get out here in the middle of the road and see Faith is an an action means something is done.........Faith has it's own type of works or actions just like cleaning toilets has its own type of works.... We know scripture says fear the Lord.... we also know it teaches us that fear is the opposite of faith.........Does this say the written word of God has contradictions? Ah NO way !!

    Words as we see have more then one meaning......Fear in fear the Lord is respect or reverence where fear of the boogie man is afraid and twisted or perverted faith. It is the same with works...........
    God Bless
    Abdicate and Mykuhl say Amen and like this.
  19. Hi Curtis,
    Kind of like Trust or Trusting in God and His word with out doubt or wavor was the works of this faith....Trusting is an action and a choice.....
    Amen and Blessings
  20. What part of "it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works" did you not understand?

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