James 2:15
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
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(15) But (the word should be added, for it continues an argument) if a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily foodi.e., the food for each day, not that which suffices for one, or for a present distress; the case is rather of worst and direst want, so that the heart untouched by the spectacle of such misery must be hard indeed.

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.If a brother or sister be naked ... - The comparison in these verses is very obvious and striking. The sense is, that faith in itself, without the acts that correspond to it, and to which it would prompt, is as cold, and heartless, and unmeaning, and useless, as it would be to say to one who was destitute of the necessaries of life, depart in peace." In itself considered, it might seem to have something that was good; but it would answer none of the purposes of faith unless it should prompt to action. In the case of one who was hungry or naked, what he wanted was not good wishes or kind words merely, but the acts to which good wishes and kind words prompt. And so in religion, what is wanted is not merely the abstract state of mind which would be indicated by faith, but the life of goodness to which it ought to lead. Good wishes and kind words, in order to make them what they should be for the welfare of the world, should be accompanied with corresponding action. So it is with faith. It is not enough for salvation without the benevolent and holy acts to which it would prompt, any more than the good wishes and kind words of the benevolent are enough to satisfy the wants of the hungry, and to clothe the naked, without correspondent action. Faith is not and cannot be shown to be genuine, unless it is accompanied with corresponding acts; as our good wishes for the poor and needy can be shown to be genuine, when we have the means of aiding them, only by actually ministering to their necessities. In the one case, our wishes would be shown to be unmeaning and heartless; in the other, our faith would be equally so. In regard to this passage, therefore, it may be observed:

(1) That in fact faith is of no more value, and has no more evidence of genuineness when it is unaccompanied with good works, than such empty wishes for the welfare of the poor would be when unaccompanied with the means of relieving their wants. Faith is designed to lead to good works. It is intended to produce a holy life; a life of activity in the service of the Saviour. This is its very essence; it is what it always produces when it is genuine. Religion is not designed to be a cold abstraction; it is to be a living and vivifying principle.

(2) there is a great deal of that kindness and charity in the world which is expressed by mere good wishes. If we really have not the means of relieving the poor and the needy, then the expression of a kind wish may be in itself an alleviation to their sorrows, for even sympathy in such a case is of value, and it is much to us to know that others feel for us; but if we have the means, and the object is a worthy one, then such expressions are mere mockery, and aggravate rather than soothe the feelings of the sufferer. Such wishes will neither clothe nor feed them; and they will only make deeper the sorrows which we ought to heal. But how much of this is there in the world, when the sufferer cannot but feel that all these wishes, however kindly expressed, are hollow and false, and when he cannot but feel that relief would be easy!

(3) in like manner there is much of this same kind of worthless faith in the world - faith that is dead; faith that produces no good works; faith that exerts no practical influence whatever on the life. The individual professes indeed to believe the truths of the gospel; he may be in the church of Christ; he would esteem it a gross calumny to be spoken of as an infidel; but as to any influence which his faith exerts over him, his life would be the same if he had never heard of the gospel. There is not one of the truths of religion which is bodied forth in his life; not a deed to which he is prompted by religion; not an act which could not be accounted for on the supposition that he has no true piety. In such a case, faith may with propriety be said to be dead.

Being alone - Margin, "by itself." The sense is, "being by itself:" that is, destitute of any accompanying fruits or results, it shows that it is dead. That which is alive bodies itself forth, produces effects, makes itself visible; that which is dead produces no effect, and is as if it were not.

15. The Greek is, "But if," &c.: the "But" taking up the argument against such a one as "said he had faith, and yet had not works," which are its fruits.

a brother, &c.—a fellow Christian, to whom we are specially bound to give help, independent of our general obligation to help all our fellow creatures.

be—The Greek implies, "be found, on your access to them."

If a brother or sister; a Christian man or woman, who are frequently thus called: see 1 Corinthians 7:12,15.

Be naked; badly clothed, or destitute of such clothing as is fit for them, Job 22:6 1 Corinthians 4:11.

And destitute of daily food: see Matthew 6:11; that which is necessary for the sustaining of life a day to an end. Under these two of nakedness and hunger, he comprehends all the calamities of human life, which may be relieved by the help of others; as food and raiment contain all the ordinary supports and comforts of life, Genesis 28:20 Matthew 6:25 1 Timothy 6:8.

If a brother or sister,.... A Christian man or woman, a fellow member of a church of Christ; for this relation is to be understood in a spiritual sense, though it does not exclude such who are in this relation in a natural sense:

be naked; or clothed in rags, or in very mean and sordid apparel, such as will neither keep them warm, nor clean and decent; for they must not be supposed to be entirely naked, but to be in a very uncomfortable and indecent garb:

and destitute of daily food; have not food sufficient for the day; or aught to support nature with, and yield them proper refreshment and nourishment.

{9} If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

(9) The first reason taken from a comparison: if a man says to one who is hungry Fill your belly and yet gives him nothing, this is not true charity. If a man says he believes and does not bring forth works of his faith, this is not true faith, but truly a dead thing called with the name of faith, of which no man has room to brag, unless he will openly incur reprehension, since the cause is understood by the effects.

Jam 2:15-16. James illustrates the idea that faith is dependent for its proof on works, otherwise if these are wanting it is dead and profits nothing, by an example of compassion, which also, if without the corresponding works, is dead and can profit nothing. The representation of this similitude has the same form as the description of the case mentioned in Jam 2:2-3 : first, the statement of the circumstances, and then of the conduct. The particle δέ (Lachmann, Tischendorf) is not merely transitional (metabasis, Wiesinger), but is to be explained from the fact that in this verse the argument against the opponent brought forward commences (Schneckenburger, de Wette).

Those requiring help are by the name ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφή characterized as members of the Christian community, in order to bring out more strongly the obligation to active assistance.

By the words γυμνοὶτροφῆς their destitute condition is described. There is no need to interpret γυμνός by male vestitus (Laurentius, Wolf, Baumgarten, Gebser, Hottinger, Schneckenburger, de Wette, Theile, Wiesinger); it is rather nudus, naked, but is certainly also so used when there is no absolute nakedness, but when the clothing can hardly be considered as clothing. On λειπόμενοι, see chap. Jam 1:4-5.

ἐφήμερος] in the N. T. ἅπ. λεγ., is neither = diurnus (Morus: quod in unum diem sufficit) nor = hodiernus (Hottinger); but ἡ ἐφήμερος τροφή is = ἡ καθʼ ἡμέραν ἀναγκαῖα τροφή (Pott, Gebser, Schneckenburger, Wiesinger).

Jam 2:15. In accordance with the very practical nature of the writer, he now proceeds to give an illustration of his thesis which is bound to appeal; he must have been a telling preacher.—ἐὰν: the addition of δέ is fairly well attested, but the reading of [56]

[57] where it is omitted is to be preferred.—ἀδελφή: the specific mention of “sister” here is noteworthy; it is the one point in this passage which suggests distinctively Christian influence. This is apparently the only place in the Bible in which “sister” is mentioned in this special connection.—γυμνοί: Cf. Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs, Zeb. xii. 1–3: “I saw a man in distress through nakedness in winter-time, and had compassion upon him, and stole away a garment secretly from my father’s house (another reading is ‘my house’), and gave it to him who was in distress. Do you, therefore, my children, from that which God bestoweth on you, show compassion and mercy without hesitation to all men, and give to every man with a good heart. And if you have not the wherewithal to give to him that needeth, have compassion for him in bowels of mercy” (Charles). Of course it is not literal nakedness that is meant in the passage before us; in the case of men the Hebrew ערום (= γυμνός), while often used in a literal sense, is also frequently used in reference to one who was not wearing a כתנת (= χιτών) and thus appeared only in סדינים, “under-garments,” see Amos 2:6; Isaiah 20:2 f.; Job 22:6; Job 24:7-10. In the case of women, the reference is likewise to the כתנת, though in this case the garment was both longer and fuller than that of men; at the same time, it is improbable that the “sister” would have appeared without a veil, unless, indeed, we are dealing with a venue which is altogether more Western; this is a possibility which cannot be wholly excluded.—λειπόμενοι: must be taken with ὑπάρχωσιν as the addition of ὦσιν is poorly attested.—ἐφημέρου τροφῆς: “the food for the day”; the words express the dire necessity of those in want. Cf. Matthew 6:11, Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον, and Nestle’s note on ἐπιούσιος in Hastings’ D.C.G., ii. 58a. ἐφήμερος does not occur elsewhere in the N.T. or the Septuagint.

[56] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[57] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

15. If a brother or sister …] The words are not necessarily used in the sense in which they imply the profession of faith in Christ as they are, e. g., in Acts 10:23; Acts 11:1; 1 Corinthians 5:11. Every Israelite was to see a brother in every child of Abraham (Matthew 5:23; Acts 2:29; Acts 3:17). All that can be said is that where the reader of the Epistle was a Christian, he would feel that the words brought before him those who were of the same society or brotherhood.

naked, and destitute of daily food] The picture drawn is one of extremest destitution, and, like the teaching of the whole passage, reminds us of Matthew 25:36; Matthew 25:43. What was the faith worth which could witness that suffering and not be stirred to help? The words are applicable to all times and countries, but it gives them a special interest to remember that the Church over which St James presided had suffered, and was probably, at the very time he wrote, suffering, from the famine foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:28-30). The Gentile disciples had, we read, done their best to alleviate the distress of the Churches of Judæa. St James’s language, addressed to the Jews and Jewish Christians of the dispersion, would seem to imply that they had shewn less forwardness, and had wrapt themselves up in the self-satisfaction of professing the orthodox faith of the sons of Abraham, while the Gentile converts whom they despised were setting an example of self-denying charity.

Jam 2:15. Ἐὰν δὲ, but if) A comparison (the Protasis of which, even by itself, conveys a suitable admonition, and one not foreign to the subject): hence the Epanelepsis,[22] what doth it profit? Jam 2:14; Jam 2:16.

[22] The figure Epanalepsis is the putting of the same word, or words, at the beginning of a preceding clause and at the end of a subsequent clause or member of a sentence. Thus verse 14th begins, and verse 16th ends, with the same words, “What doth it profit?”

Verses 15, 16. - Observe the practical character of the illustration chosen, from works of mercy (cf. James 1:27). Ωσι in ver. 15 should be deleted (omitted by B, C, K); also the disjunctive particle δὲ at the commencement of the verse (with א, B). James 2:15Be (ὑπάρχωσιν)

The distinction between this word and the simple εἶναι, to be, is very subtle. The verb ὑπάρχω originally means to make a beginning; hence, to begin or to come into being; and, though used substantially as a synonym of εἶναι, of a thing actually existing and at hand, it has a backward look to an antecedent condition which has been protracted into the present. Thus we might paraphrase here, "If a brother or sister, having been in a destitute condition, be found by you in that condition." Εἶναι, on the other hand, would simply state the present fact of destitution. See on 2 Peter 1:8.

Destitute (λειπόμενοι)

Lit., left behind; and hence lacking, as Rev. Compare James 1:4, James 1:5. This usage of the word occurs in James only.

Daily (ἐφημέρου)

Only here in New Testament.

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