James 2 can someone tell me what faith is?

In light of James 2, can someone define for me the meaning of faith?

From Haydock commentary :slight_smile:

With respect of persons. This partial respect of persons is several times condemned both in the Old and New Testament. St. James here speaks of it as it was committed in the assemblies, by which many understand the meetings of Christians, in synagogues and places where they celebrated the divine service, or met to keep the charitable feast, called Agape. Others expound it of meetings where causes were judged. If it be meant of Church meetings, the apostle might have even greater reason to condemn such a partiality at that time than at present; for when the poorer sort of people, of which was the greatest number of converts, saw themselves so neglected and despised, and any rich man when he came thither so caressed and honoured, this might prove a discouragement to the meaner sort of people, and an obstacle to their conversion. But if we expound it of meetings where causes were judged betwixt the rich and others of a lower condition, (which exposition the text seems to favour) the fault might be still greater, when the judges gave sentence in favour of great and rich men, biassed thereunto by the unjust regard they had for men rich and powerful. This was a transgression of the law: (Leviticus xix. 15.) Respect not the person of the poor, nor honour the countenance of the mighty. But judge thy neighbour according to justice. See also Deuteronomy i. 17. (Witham)
Respect The meaning is, that in matters relating to faith, the administering of the sacraments and other spiritual functions in God’s Church, there should be no respect of persons: but that the souls of the poor should be as much regarded as those of the rich. ( Chap. i. 17) (Challoner)

And from St. Bede
James here demonstrates that those to whom he is writing were full of faith but empty when it came to works.

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@Jacob1, what is your difficulty, exactly? The title you put on this thread suggests that you understand the meaning of “faith” in every other book in the New Testament, with the sole exception of this one. Is that what you mean?

Note that James says:

19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble.

In light of James 2 faith is to believe that God is. And that is certainly consistent with demons believing.

Knowing Who God is is only part of the picture (like it said even satan knows that). What matters is not just knowing Who He is but KNOWING Him and following Him each and every day. Praying for the Grace to do His will and live your life for Him. Believing even though you may not understand everything 100%. That is Faith.

Faith and belief for James are two dirrent things. Faith is trust, loyalty, which is demonstrated by action.

James is explaining that believing Jesus is God and our savior is only one part of faith - perhaps the first major step. The second major step is obedience to this One you “believe” is God. St. Paul teaches the same when he speaks of the “obedience of faith” ( Romans 1:5 and 16:26 ) Without obedience it’s not faith - it’s only a type of belief similar to Satan’s.

Jesus Himself teaches us the necessity of both belief AND obedience:

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.”

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. " (Mt. 28:19)

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My priest once said “Faith is our response to the presence of God” and recently I read a quote from Andrea Corr "Faith is not against reason, it is beyond it.

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James is trying to explain that very thing! What exactly is confusing you?


  1. [ 1 ] Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen .

To have faith in God does not mean to believe that God exists; to have faith in God means to trust God, to believe that He is infinitely good and loving, to commit ourselves entirely to Him.
Demons believe that God exists but they do not believe that He is good and despise Him.

The Hebrew word aman is translated as “believe”, “trust”, “have faith”, and also “support”, “nourish”, and “make lasting”. A derivative word is omenat , meaning “pillars” or “supports of the door” as in 2 Kings 18:16. Another cognate is emunah , which is “faithfulness” or “trust”, as in Exodus 17:12 where God brought victory to Israel as long as Moses would hold his hands up. Aaron and Hur held up his hands so that they “remained emunah until sundown”. IMO, all of these illustrate that faith is an action that we take.

The Catechism expresses this by saying that faith is an act of the will in which one turns toward God and away from sin; in which we decide that we will cooperate, with our intellect and will, with the divine grace that God gives us to enable us to comply with the moral law; it is a free response of the human person to the initiative of God; it is a personal adherence of the whole man to the God who reveals himself. It is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity.”

I’ve never understood how people think that that verse can be treated as a definition of the term, or that it’s easy to understand. I find it to be one of the Bible’s more difficult passages.

The answer to this mystery of faith expressed from Heb.11: 1 is love and hope.
Faith becomes visible to us in the mysteries of the Sacraments or what is sacramental.The reward from faith expressed via the Sacraments is Grace and blessings.
Example; the Eucharist. The Eucharist sacramentally is a visible sign revealed from bread and wine to our natural senses which does not take faith. Faith then is the evidence of things not seen in the Eucharist, although the eye’s of faith makes an action of hope that is triggered by the faith in the true and substantial Presence of Jesus body, blood, soul and divinity, and that hope expressed from Faith in God’s Presence believes time and space in the natural order of things where we see God (sacramentally) as if in a mirror, ends in hope of seeing God face to face.

In Eucharist we can agree with Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”.

The divine Grace which God Sacramentally parts to those who believe in His Son comes to us in the Word of God. When Hebrews proves faith in God is a reality that supersedes the natural order of things, when the Word of God states; Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.

Thus it is the Word of God that makes things visible both to our natural senses and to our Souls and Spirit which are born from the invisible Grace that opens our hearts and Love to God and neighbor.
Has anyone seen Love? Yet we have faith that Love exist, when the Holy Spirit has revealed to us that God is Love. It only takes the faith the size of a mustard seed to first believe and God will meet us the rest of the way.

Peace be with you

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This strikes me as gobbledygook.

Of course it is . You see the spiritual realities described in Spiritual terms are foolish to the natural person and secular world. Did you not know that the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a sign of contradiction?
Thank you for the blessing and yes they called my Lord drunkard who eats with sinners, because Jesus revealed such spiritual realities to our humanity and His witnesses wrote some of them down.
The most beautiful things on earth and in heaven are seen more clear with the heart than with eyes.
Peace be with you

And there are plenty of them to be sure, my friend. In my own case the latter half of that verse is what makes the most sense. But this is based on experiences that have a relevance only to me; things that are too numerous to be written off as coincidence or happenstance yet have no substantive evidence I could present to someone else. The bottom line is that faith is not something most of us can simply conjure up out of thin air, but is the result of many years of dialog with God and a trust in the ultimate value of this life. Admittedly that still may not satisfactorily answer the question, but each of us must find our own way in what has to be a very personal conviction toward the Divine. And, I would add, most of us still have a long, long way to go in this pursuit.

The RSV reads; “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb 11:1
Things not see, e.g. God yet we believe and seek to have a personal relationship with him.

@Jacob1, a dozen or more posters have given their answers to your question. Did you find any of those answers satisfactory? You never posted again on the thread, after your OP.

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