Justified by Faith Alone cf. James 2:24


ajcstr, hello.

You should know that doctrine is not created by a king. Jesus said let there be two or three witnesses before the word is established. And no! … the holy Spirit is not confused in James. It sounds like you are.

This is last months argument to which I don’t think I remember you. But I wrote a lot on this topic.
My position is that James is not addressing how one become eternally saved, as did Paul. As a mater of fact, none of his epistle addresses this topic.

For that very reason, we do not have a contradiction between James and Paul. I agree with James that a man is justified by WORKS. but I also agree with Paul, that those works are not before God. Ro. 4:2. James was also in agreement with Paul on that.

The Romans 2:6-11 passage you quote here needs “context” to be interpreted. This is now the fourth or fifth time I answer about these verses. If anyone will take the time to find the larger context of Paul’s thought, (suggestion chapter 1:18 and following) you will realize who Paul is addressing in it’s context. There is nothing in this passage about salvation by grace at all. Paul is talking to unconverted Jews and unbelieving people in general. If they want to seek righteousness through the law then, "he will render to each one according to his WORKS. v7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life! All true!.. let me know who has kept the law flawlessly and I will pack my bag.

Paul continues his thought by saying in verse 13, "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be JUSTIFIED. Again, all true!.. If you want salvation by the law you go ahead and take a shot at it.
This was his point.

He continues his same thought all the way until chapter 3 where verse 23 transitions. "v22 For there is no distinction (between Jew and Gentile.) v23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, v24 AND ARE JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE AS A GIFT, THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS."
Translation: Both Jews and Gentiles are incapable of keeping the Law or approaching God with their works as a means to obtaining righteousness. It must be gifted.
plane and simple.

got to go to work now



I’ll admit I am a little unclear on how Romans 2 fits in but in Romans 3 and 4 I think he is showing a contrast between faith and circumcision. In Romans 3 he is pitting faith against circumcision (works of the law). The phrase “works of the law” does not appear at all in the OT but it does in the Dead Sea scrolls and in that case it refers to purity rituals and other Jewish identity markers. I believe that Martin Luther equated the works of the law with good works and in this i believe he was in error.

His argument in Romans 4 is that Abraham was justified by his faith and not by his circumcision.

Romans/Galatians/Acts(15) all deal with this issue of Jewish identity markers. Do Christians need to be circumcised and can the uncircumcised eat with the circumcised (think Eucharist/Lord’s Supper). Ephesians is another story because the context of who he is speaking to is different.

Also, you keep pitting faith against works. Of course we believe we need faith as Paul teaches but we also believe that works are required to complete our faith as James teaches. Not an either/or but faith must precede works.


“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith SAVE him?” - James 2:14 ESV


The :Law of Moses was a law that modified one’s behavior Do not kill, do not steal,… do not commit adultery… ect. But the law expanded over time to many many good things, But this is neither here nor there. the flip side of the argument is that justification is gifted by favor only! apart from works, as the Apostle Paul said to the Ephesian Church. Good works, good deeds, good behavior, our efforts in action, do not contribute the way God justifies his people. He does it based on the work of another. It is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross. His work was a completed and sufficient work alone. Therefore eternal life and a STANDING with God as a justified believer is ALL GIFTED.

I’m still waiting to here someone’s response to justification as a process. I believe I heard the word progressive justification. Someone please show me this idea from scripture.


“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person IS justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:21-24 ESV

Notice: “and he was called a friend of God” - as to your whole ‘justification before men’ and not God.


LOL, I could be wrong, but I’m not confused. Why can’t the statement in James just be taken at face value.

When the individual posts got to be a page long in this thread, I stayed on the sidelines.

Back to the “justified before man” argument - I don’t agree with your fallible interpretation and I will stick with my fallible interpretation. James also says faith without works is dead. Is that before men or before God?

So Romans 2 is a hypothetical, have heard this argued too. Again my humble fallible interpretation is in disagreement with yours.

BTW, IMO the 2 most misused phrases when dealing with biblical texts are 1) starting a sentence with “Clearly” and 2) “taken in context”. I always find that its not always a clear as the person suggests and I have also found that even agreeing on the context does not lead to agreement with the interpretation. I try never to do the first but I do sometimes catch myself doing the 2nd.

I think we are actually close on this one. Paul is saying that Jews are under the same power of sin that the Gentiles are under despite the fact that they are Jews. Again, again, and again, no one here is arguing that salvation is through works.

So since we disagree on pretty much everything stated above, I would like to change the discussion slightly. I pose these questions to you and the other non-Catholic contributors to this thread (not trick questions, I have no idea how you will answer them)…

  1. What is Sanctification?
  2. Does man participate in his own sanctification?
  3. Is sanctification related to salvation?


We have given several examples of this. Paul and James point to two events in Abraham’s life and say he was justified by them. We have ruled out multiple justifications. What else are you looking for. If you want the exact words from 2 witnesses… then we disagree on this too and lets move on.


Did not Jesus talk about the Pharisees who were it seems trying to show off by praying in public and also when in the Temple where the Pharisee prayed to God saying he was better than the publican because he gave to the Temple preformed all the Jewish laws and rituals etc. so was justified before God? Was not Paul saying in affect that no one was saved by themselves but only by God’s grace. That good works were done because of God and not one oneself? Was not Paul speaking of the laws of Moses and the rituals involved, that works under the laws of moses does not save? Something to think about.


It seems to me Abraham was justified by doing what God asked him to do, but was he also justified when he left and traveled to the promise land because he believed God to be one and not many gods?


These are St Paul’s way of expressing an overall aspect of Justification:

1 Timothy 5
If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Corinthians 15
Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand,2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain.

Romans 11
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.

Romans 8
it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Nowhere in our justification do we earn it.


It seems to me even the devil believes in God that does not make him justified before God. i think it takes more like faith in action showing that faith in God by what deeds or works done to bring glory to God. Did not Jesus say be a light that shines so that those who see your good works will give glory to God the Father?


I’m on my phone at work now and will not address these yet. But I will say your approach is a matter of interpretation of those verse to which I will try to get to tonight or tomorrow.


You can believe what God says, you can believe that God exists, and you can believe in him, which means that you love him so much that you want to do what he tells you. There are many evil people around who can manage the first two of these. They believe that God means what he says, and they are quite prepared to accept that he exists. But it takes someone who is not just a nominal Christian but who is one in deed and in living to love God and to do what he commands. Faith with love is Christian, but faith without love is demonic. - Saint Bede (Concerning the Epistle of St. James)


No rush, we will be here.

I would just add that given the fact that you would argue since justification is a one time event, Paul is actually giving the account of Abraham’s justification and not James. We would argue that since justification is a process both are accounts of points in time of Abraham’s justification. To us, those 2 events suggest that Abraham’s justification was not a point in time. So since you reject this premise, I would guess we will just be wasting each others time.


Hi August therese: Thanks for your reply. I don’t disagree with you my point is that just because on believes in God that he exists does not make one justified.I mentioned the devil because my Carmelite priest once told me even the devil believes, which told me that it take more then just belief in God but to do His will. We know the devil tempted jesus in the desert and twisted God’s Word. Jesus said to love one’s neighbor as oneself not just God. To love one’s neighbor means to me helping doing for them as one can or is able to just as one would want one’s neighbor to do for oneself. Faith to me is a action word so faith means more then just saying one has faith as James said faith without good works is a dead faith. When one does good works or deeds it is done out of love for God not for gain to to prove to anyone how righteous or holy one might be. its not done to merit, or to earn anything or to be recognized. Did not jesus say also that the servant does not get credit for what the Master asks to be done? Also in Matt. jesus says not everyone who say jesus will be saved but those who did His Father’s will that helped others feeding giving drink etc. are the Ones because when they did it they did it for Jesus, so it really sounds to me faith is doing not just saying.


I was agreeing with you; hence, my quote of Saint Bede. :slight_smile:


But I think Justification does have a beginning point in time, and moments when our faith is tested. When we overcome through faith, we manifest faith with works.

It’s almost like works justify our faith! Otherwise, our faith is vain belief


In ancient writings the phrase “works of the law” can only be found in two places; St. Paul’s writings and in the document labeled 4QMMT from the Dead Sea Scrolls. 4QMMT quite clearly shows that “works of the law” is referencing ceremonial laws of the OT. I’ve not looked into how Protestantism has addressed this since the DSS findings…but something for you to look into?


So in Romans 2 that lanman87 is referencing Paul just uses the term “the law”, so It’s not as clear as Romans 3 “works of law”. Is Paul referring to ceremonial law, moral law, or both here. I don’t have an answer for him. It would help my argument if he is referring to the moral law as well.

Here is an older post

Looking at verses 14-15 it sure sounds like he is talking about the moral law

14 So, when gentiles, not having the Law, still through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, then, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves.

15 They can demonstrate the effect of the Law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defence . . . on the day when,


IDK…but my Douay-Rheims commentary says:

Ver 12. Whosoever have sinned without the law. That is, without the written law of Moses, against their reason and conscience, &c. And also those who being Jews, have sinned under this written law, shall be judged, even with greater severity, for having transgressed against the known law.

Ver 14-15 When the Gentiles…do by nature, or naturally, that is , without having received any written law, these men are a law to themselves, and have it written in their hearts, as to the existence of a God, and their reason tells them, that many sins are unlawful: they may also do some actions that are morally good, a by giving alms to relieve the poor, honouring their parents, &c. not that these actions, morally good, will suffice for their justification of themselves, or make them deserve a supernatural reward in the kingdom of heaven; but God, out of his infinite mercy, will give them some supernatural graces, by which they come to know, and believe, that he will reward their souls for eternity. Such, say S. Chrys. were the dispositions of Melchisedech, Job, Cornelius the Centurion, &c.

Not sure if this helps.

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