New American Standard Bible
The Sin of Partiality
2 (A)My brothers and sisters, (B)do not hold your faith in our (C)glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of (D)personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your [a]assembly with a gold ring and is dressed in (E)bright clothes, and a poor man in (F)dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and you [b]pay special attention to the one who is wearing the (G)bright clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges (H)with evil [c]motives? 5 Listen, (I)my beloved brothers and sisters: did (J)God not choose the poor [d]of this world to be (K)rich in faith and (L)heirs of the kingdom which He (M)promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and [e]personally (N)drag you into [f]court? 7 (O)Do they not blaspheme the good name [g]by which you have been called?
8 If, however, you (P)are fulfilling the [h]royal law according to the Scripture, “(Q)You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you (R)show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the Law as violators. 10 For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet (S)stumbles in one point, has become (T)guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “(U)Do not commit adultery,” also said, “(V)Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do murder, you have become a violator of the Law. 12 So speak, and so act, as those who are to be judged by (W)the law of freedom. 13 For (X)judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy [i]triumphs over judgment.
Faith and Works
14 (Y)What use is it, (Z)my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can [j]that faith save him? 15 (AA)If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “(AB)Go in peace, [k]be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 In the same way, (AC)faith also, if it has no works, is [l]dead, being by itself.
18 (AD)But someone [m]may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your (AE)faith without the works, and I will (AF)show you my faith (AG)by my works.” 19 You believe that [n](AH)God is one. (AI)You do well; (AJ)the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to acknowledge, (AK)you foolish person, that (AL)faith without works is useless? 21 (AM)Was our father Abraham not justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that (AN)faith was working with his works, and [o]as a result of the (AO)works, faith was [p]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “(AP)And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called a (AQ)friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was (AR)Rahab the prostitute not justified by works also (AS)when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also (AT)faith without works is dead.
- James 2:2 Or synagogue
- James 2:3 Lit look at
- James 2:4 Lit reasonings
- James 2:5 Lit to the
- James 2:6 Lit they themselves
- James 2:6 Lit courts
- James 2:7 Lit which has been called upon you
- James 2:8 Or law of our King
- James 2:13 Lit boasts against
- James 2:14 Lit the
- James 2:16 Or warm yourselves and fill yourselves
- James 2:17 Or dead by its own standards
- James 2:18 Lit will
- James 2:19 One early ms there is one God
- James 2:22 Or by the deeds
- James 2:22 Or completed
New English Translation
Prejudice and the Law of Love
2 My brothers and sisters,[a] do not show prejudice[b] if you possess faith[c] in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.[d] 2 For if someone[e] comes into your assembly[f] wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes, 3 do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say,[g] “You sit here in a good place,”[h] and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”?[i] 4 If so, have you not made distinctions[j] among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?[k] 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters![l] Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor![m] Are not the rich oppressing you and dragging you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to?[n] 8 But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture,[o] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”[p] you are doing well. 9 But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.[q] 10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails[r] in one point has become guilty of all of it.[s] 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,”[t] also said, “Do not murder.”[u] Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law. 12 Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom.[v] 13 For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over[w] judgment.
Faith and Works Together
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,[x] if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith[y] save him?[z] 15 If a brother or sister[aa] is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs,[ab] what good is it? 17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”[ac] Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by[ad] my works. 19 You believe that God is one; well and good.[ae] Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear.[af]
20 But would you like evidence,[ag] you empty fellow,[ah] that faith without works is useless?[ai] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,”[aj] and he was called God’s friend.[ak] 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
- James 2:1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.
- James 2:1 tn Or “partiality.”
- James 2:1 tn Grk “do not have faith with personal prejudice,” with emphasis on the last phrase.
- James 2:1 tn Grk “our Lord Jesus Christ of glory.” Here δόξης (doxēs) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
- James 2:2 tn The word for “man” or “individual” here is ἀνήρ (anēr), which often means “male” or “man (as opposed to woman).” But as BDAG 79 s.v. 2 says, “equivalent to τὶς someone.”
- James 2:2 tn Grk “synagogue.” Usually συναγωγή refers to Jewish places of worship (e.g., Matt 4:23, Mark 1:21, Luke 4:15, John 6:59). The word can be used generally to refer to a place of assembly, and here it refers specifically to a Christian assembly (BDAG 963 s.v. 2.b.).
- James 2:3 tn Grk “and you pay attention…and say,” continuing the “if” clauses from v. 2. In the Greek text, vv. 2-4 form one long sentence.
- James 2:3 tn Or “sit here, please.”
- James 2:3 tn Grk “sit under my footstool.” The words “on the floor” have been supplied in the translation to clarify for the modern reader the undesirability of this seating arrangement (so also TEV, NIV, CEV, NLT). Another option followed by a number of translations is to replace “under my footstool” with “at my feet” (NAB, NIV, NRSV).
- James 2:4 tn Grk “have you not made distinctions” (as the conclusion to the series of “if” clauses in vv. 2-3).
- James 2:4 tn Grk “judges of evil reasonings.”
- James 2:5 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.
- James 2:6 tn This is singular: “the poor person,” perhaps referring to the hypothetical one described in vv. 2-3.
- James 2:7 tn Grk “that was invoked over you,” referring to their baptism in which they confessed their faith in Christ and were pronounced to be his own. To have the Lord’s name “named over them” is OT imagery for the Lord’s ownership of his people (cf. 2 Chr 7:14; Amos 9:12; Isa 63:19; Jer 14:9; 15:16; Dan 9:19; Acts 15:17).
- James 2:8 tn Grk “according to the scripture.”
- James 2:8 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18 (also quoted in Matt 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14).
- James 2:9 tn Or “transgressors.”
- James 2:10 tn Or “stumbles.”
- James 2:10 tn Grk “guilty of all.”
- James 2:11 sn A quotation from Exod 20:14 and Deut 5:18.
- James 2:11 sn A quotation from Exod 20:13 and Deut 5:17.
- James 2:12 tn Grk “a law of freedom.”
- James 2:13 tn Grk “boasts against, exults over,” in victory.
- James 2:14 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.
- James 2:14 tn Grk “the faith,” referring to the kind of faith just described: faith without works. The article here is anaphoric, referring to the previous mention of the noun πίστις (pistis) in the verse. See ExSyn 219.
- James 2:14 sn The form of the question in Greek expects a negative answer.
- James 2:15 tn It is important to note that the words ἀδελφός (adelphos) and ἀδελφή (adelphē) both occur in the Greek text at this point, confirming that the author intended to refer to both men and women. See the note on “someone” in 2:2.
- James 2:16 tn Grk “what is necessary for the body.”
- James 2:18 tn There is considerable doubt about where the words of the “someone” end and where James’ reply begins. Some see the quotation running to the end of v. 18; others to the end of v. 19. But most punctuate as shown above. The “someone” is then an objector, and the sense of his words is something like, “Some have faith; others have works; don’t expect everyone to have both.” James’ reply is that faith cannot exist or be seen without works.
- James 2:18 tn Or “from.”
- James 2:19 tn Grk “you do well.”
- James 2:19 tn Grk “believe and tremble.” The words “with fear” are implied.
- James 2:20 tn Grk “do you want to know.”
- James 2:20 tn Grk “O empty man.” Here the singular vocative ἄνθρωπε (anthrōpe, “man”) means “person” or even “fellow.” Cf. BDAG 82 s.v. ἄνθρωπος 8 which views this as an instance of rhetorical address in a letter; the pejorative sense is also discussed under the previous heading (7).
- James 2:20 tc Most witnesses, including several significant ones (א A C2 P Ψ 5 33 81 436 442 1611 1735 1852 2344 2492 M al sy bo), have νεκρά (nekra, “dead”) here, while P74 reads κενή (kenē, “empty”). Both variants are most likely secondary, derived from ἀργή (argē, “useless”). The reading of the majority is probably an assimilation to the statements in vv. 17 and 26, while P74’s reading picks up on κενέ (kene) earlier in the verse. The external evidence (B C* 323 945 1175 1243 1739 sa) for ἀργή is sufficient for authenticity; coupled with the strong internal evidence for the reading (if νεκρά were original, how would ἀργή have arisen here and not in vv. 17 or 26?), it is strongly preferred.
- James 2:23 sn A quotation from Gen 15:6.
- James 2:23 sn An allusion to 2 Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; 51:2; Dan 3:35 (LXX), in which Abraham is called God’s “beloved.”
New International Reader's Version
Treat Everyone the Same
2 My brothers and sisters, you are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. So treat everyone the same. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes. And suppose a poor man in dirty old clothes also comes in. 3 Would you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes? Would you say, “Here’s a good seat for you”? Would you say to the poor man, “You stand there”? Or “Sit on the floor by my feet”? 4 If you would, aren’t you treating some people better than others? Aren’t you like judges who have evil thoughts?
5 My dear brothers and sisters, listen to me. Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor in the world’s eyes to be rich in faith? Hasn’t he chosen them to receive the kingdom? Hasn’t he promised it to those who love him? 6 But you have disrespected poor people. Aren’t rich people taking advantage of you? Aren’t they dragging you into court? 7 Aren’t they speaking evil things against the worthy name of Jesus? Remember, you belong to him.
8 The royal law is found in Scripture. It says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) If you really keep this law, you are doing what is right. 9 But you sin if you don’t treat everyone the same. The law judges you because you have broken it. 10 Suppose you keep the whole law but trip over just one part of it. Then you are guilty of breaking all of it. 11 God said, “Do not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18) He also said, “Do not commit murder.” (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17) Suppose you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder. Then you have broken the law.
12 Speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom. 13 Those who have not shown mercy will not receive mercy when they are judged. To show mercy is better than to judge.
Show Your Faith by What You Do
14 Suppose a person claims to have faith but doesn’t act on their faith. My brothers and sisters, can this kind of faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister has no clothes or food. 16 Suppose one of you says to them, “Go. I hope everything turns out fine for you. Keep warm. Eat well.” And suppose you do nothing about what they really need. Then what good have you done? 17 It is the same with faith. If it doesn’t cause us to do something, it’s dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith. I do good deeds.”
Show me your faith that doesn’t cause you to do good deeds. And I will show you my faith by the goods deeds I do. 19 You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that. And they tremble!
20 You foolish person! Do you want proof that faith without good deeds is useless? 21 Our father Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar. Wasn’t he considered to be right with God because of what he did? 22 So you see that what he believed and what he did were working together. What he did made his faith complete. 23 That is what Scripture means where it says, “Abraham believed God. God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God.” (Genesis 15:6) And that’s not all. God called Abraham his friend. 24 So you see that a person is considered right with God by what they do. It doesn’t happen only because they believe.
25 Didn’t God consider even Rahab the prostitute to be right with him? That’s because of what she did for the spies. She gave them a place to stay. Then she sent them off in a different direction. 26 A person’s body without their spirit is dead. In the same way, faith without good deeds is dead.