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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Faith and Deeds: The Theological Unity (2:14-26)
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Faith and Deeds: The Theological Unity (2:14-26)

As an InterVarsity area director and now as a pastor, I have often been asked to fill out recommendation forms for people who are candidates for positions with various Christian ministries. Some of those forms omit the question that I always find the most revealing: How have you observed the candidate's faith affecting his or her lifestyle? I try to imagine James at the head of any of these mission agencies or parachurch organizations, and I expect he would insist on including that question. Why would he want to hire someone in whose actions there was not good evidence of faith?

We have already found James insisting that genuine faith must be put into practice. He began speaking of faith right away (1:3), and he was blunt in telling his readers to do what the word says (1:22). His letter thus far could be broadly outlined as follows:

1:1-18Maintaining faith in the midst of trials
1:19-27Putting faith into practice by being doers of the word
2:1-13An example of practicing one's faith: impartiality

It is a natural flow of thought for James now to draw this together by explaining the theological unity of faith and actions. He argues his case first with logic (2:14-18) and then with examples (2:19-25). But he "sustains a single, theological argument throughout" concerning the issue that "lies at the very heart of James' concern" (Moo 1985:99).

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