Protestants say James 2 is using the term “justify” differently than that of Paul. They say Paul means “justified before God,” saved, declared righteous - while James means “justified before men,” vindicated, giving evidence by works that you are a genuine Chrisitan.
They are forced to say this because if the usage were the same their theology would be contradicted.
What is very interesting, and no mere coincidence, is that James 2 quotes the most important Sola Fide passage: Gen 15:6. And it quotes this one verse prior to the (in)famous James 2:24.
First, some quick background in how Gen 15:6 is used in the NT:Romans 4: 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
HOW do we know that Gen 15:6 is talking about justification when the word “justify” does NOT EVEN APPEAR in Gen 15:6?
The reasoning is quite simple:
Paul in Romans 4:2 explicitly makes the context about justification by using the term “justify” (Strong’s Greek #1344) itself.
**However, what is just as profound - and what most people don’t realize - is that the English language hides something from us when translated from Greek. The terms for “justify” and “righteous” all through the Bible are actually are derived from the SAME Greek word group, though in English they appear totally different words.
****G1343: Righteousness; Greek: dikaiosune
G1344: Justify; Greek: dikaioo
****Do you see that? Someone reading it in Greek would not miss this. **The way Strong’s Numbering is done is an alphabetical listing of all the Greek words in the NT, as we see 1343 and 1344, these words appear in immediate sequence alphabetically. In English it would look like this if carried over directly:Romans 4: 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified/righted by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as justness/righteousness."
The way this comes out in English is a bit crude, that is why it is worded the way it is in normal translations. BUT the fact remains THAT is how you should be looking at these texts.
NOW comes the problem with the Protestant approach to James 2:23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
Do you see the problem? We have an IDENTICAL situation with Romans 4 of using dikaioo and dikaiosune in the SAME context (in both cases within two verses). James 2:23 is quoting Gen 15:6, and as seen with Paul this is a salvific dikaio being used, not a “vindicated before men” one. The Protestant has NO GROUNDS whatsoever to claim “justify” in James 2:24 must have a different meaning than Paul. To make such a claim would require an ideologically motivated abuse of the Greek and improper exegesis practice.
This evidence is utterly devastating to the Protestant position, and is an undeniable contradiction in their theology.