“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:14–18, KJV)
James 2:14(KJV) 2:14. Another shift in the argument of the epistle can be seen by James’ use of my brothers. He introduced this paragraph with a rhetorical question, What good is it… if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? The emphasis is not on the true nature of faith but on the false claim of faith. It is the spurious boast of faith that James condemned. Such “faith” does no “good”; there is no “profit” (ophelos, used in the NT only here and in v. 16; 1 Cor. 15:32). It is worthless because it is all talk with no walk. It is only a habitual empty boast (“claims” is in the pres. tense). Can such faith save him? A negative answer is anticipated in the Greek. Merely claiming to have faith is not enough. Genuine faith is evidenced by works.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John Walvoord.
David Cloud agrees with this interpretation in his “Things Hard to Be Understood.” This is a book every Christian should own. No kidding. He answers several trouble passages. I’d love to see a volume 2 to this book.
The people James is talking to are already saved. We’ve seen that. David Cloud points out Paul addresses Justification before God in Romans – James here addresses justification before man – how to show one’s salvation, not how to get it!.
There’s nothing here about keeping the law. Or about keeping the sabbath. Or about Baptism. Or about confession, mass, ritualistic prayers, etc.