|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:14-26 Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith. A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes. Men may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not. There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar favours. We see then, ver. 24, how that by works a man is justified, not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by having such faith as produces good works. And to have to deny his own reason, affections, and interests, is an action fit to try a believer. Observe here, the wonderful power of faith in changing sinners. Rahab's conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power; it showed that she believed with her heart, not merely by an assent of the understanding. Let us then take heed, for the best works, without faith, are dead; they want root and principle. By faith any thing we do is really good; as done in obedience to God, and aiming at his acceptance: the root is as though it were dead, when there is no fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits; and we must see to it that we have both. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it. There is no middle state. Every one must either live God's friend, or God's enemy. Living to God, as it is the consequence of faith, which justifies and will save, obliges us to do nothing against him, but every thing for him and to him.
Verse 26. - Conclusion of the whole matter: "As the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For as the body without the spirit is dead,.... This simile is made use of to illustrate what the apostle had asserted in James 2:17 that as a body, when the spirit or soul is departed from it, or the breath is gone out of it, is dead, and without motion, and useless; which the Jews (d) express in like manner, , "the body without the spirit", or "breath, is a carcass".
So faith without works is dead also: a vain thing, useless and unprofitable, can neither justify, nor save, nor prove that a man is justified, or will be saved.
(d) Ohel. Moed, fol. 15. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. Faith is a spiritual thing: works are material. Hence we might expect faith to answer to the spirit, works to the body. But James reverses this. He therefore does not mean that faith in all cases answers to the body; but the FORM of faith without the working reality answers to the body without the animating spirit. It does not follow that living faith derives its life from works, as the body derives its life from the animating spirit.
James 2:26 Parallel Commentaries
James 2:26 NIV
James 2:26 NLT
James 2:26 ESV
James 2:26 NASB
James 2:26 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible