James 1.1 and 2.1.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
John2
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by John2 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:07 pm

robert j wrote:
1) You still haven’t clearly demonstrated that Paul promoted faith without works.

2) I don’t have time for this crap John2. By “crap”, I mean stringing together 3 separate passages from James as if it was a single passage, and without even identifying the verse numbers.

3) And even then, the best you can come up with here is suggesting that there is a significant correlation between one boasting with bitter jealousy and self-interest in their hearts and lying against the truth, in James 3:14 --- and Paul’s use of a related term and claiming to boast a little as a fool, but with confidence, in 2 Corinthians 11:16.
I recall having a discussion a with you when I joined the forum several years ago where you argued that Paul had not really been a Pharisee, and this discussion with you is striking me the same way. Just saying.

Two of the verses from James that I cited above are from chapter two (half of which is devoted to the issue of the "foolish man" and faith without works) and the other one is in the next chapter (all of which is devoted to how to be a proper teacher and "taming the tongue" and jealousy, selfish ambition and boasting), all of which seems applicable to Paul to me, given what he says in 2 Cor. 11, but if you don't agree then fine.

As for Paul promoting faith without works, I get this impression from things like Gal. 2:15-16:
We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile ‘sinners’ know that a man is not justified by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:21 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:07 pm
robert j wrote:
1) You still haven’t clearly demonstrated that Paul promoted faith without works.
John2 wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:07 pm
As for Paul promoting faith without works, I get this impression from things like Gal. 2:15-16:
We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile ‘sinners’ know that a man is not justified by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
If the question is whether James can have attacked Paul for promoting faith without works, then I fail to see how the bar can be whether Paul really did promote faith without works. Rather, the bar has to be whether Paul can be interpreted as promoting faith without works; in other words, is it possible for James to be attacking Paul for promoting faith without works (whether or not Paul actually did so)? And the obvious answer to that question is: yes. Yes, Paul can be pretty easily interpreted as having pit faith against works, with faith as the sole victor; this interpretation is still very common, even today. So yes, James can pretty easily have been attacking Paul for this. I say this as one who suspects that Paul did not really promote faith over works in the way that people tend to think; but what Paul really did or did not do can hardly be the issue for what James or others may have thought that he did or did not do.
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John2
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by John2 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:32 pm

Ben,

What you wrote seems to be the take in Acts 21:21-24 as well.
But they are under the impression that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe our customs. What then should we do? ... Therefore do what we advise you. There are four men with us who have taken a vow. Take these men, purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that there is no truth to these rumors about you, but that you also live in obedience to the law.


My "impression" of this account (if it has any merit) is that this is Paul doing what he says he does in 1 Cor. 9:20:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), to win those under the law.
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robert j
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by robert j » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:55 pm

John2, You are really Johnny-on-the-spot. I deleted that post within a very few minutes after I posted it because I wasn't happy with the somewhat non-collegial tone.

robert j wrote:
1) You still haven’t clearly demonstrated that Paul promoted faith without works.
John2 wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:07 pm


As for Paul promoting faith without works, I get this impression from things like Gal. 2:15-16:
We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile ‘sinners’ know that a man is not justified by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Works of the law will not provide justification unless one keeps the entire law. (See Galatians 5:3).

But even with justification by faith, good works were required ---

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

It was not the Mosaic rituals that the author of James promoted, but rather the author of James railed against these very same kind of activities that Paul does here. For both authors, both faith and good works are required.

And now I will leave you to your opinions here.
Last edited by robert j on Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John2
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by John2 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:44 pm

robert j wrote:
I think careful readings Paul's letters to his congregations indicate that what Paul meant here was that works of the law alone will not provide justification (unless one keeps the entire law, Galatians 5:3). But even with justification by faith, good works are also required ---
But are "good works" the same thing as "works of the law"? I get the impression from Gal. 5 (and elsewhere) that Paul is arguing against Torah observance, since he says that "all that matters is faith" in 5:2-6:
Take notice: I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all ... For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. All that matters is faith, expressed through love.


I think this is why he has to say in 5:13-14:
For you, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I think Paul is trying to deal with the consequences of telling people not to observe the Torah, i.e, "do not use your freedom as an opportunity" to do things that make Christians look bad. I think he's trying to have his cake (no Torah) and eat it too (but don't behave badly).

As he says in Gal. 3:1 and 3:23-25:
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
Before this faith came, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
It's stuff like this that makes me think that Paul is against Torah observance. The Torah is fine in the sense that it "lead us to Christ" and talks about love, but that's about it.

Plus he says outright in 1 Cor. 9:20, "I myself am not under the law."
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:42 pm

Deleted because redundant with next post
Last edited by Bernard Muller on Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:44 pm

Some interesting quotes about the works of the law (or faith) (underlined) and about the law & faith (bolded). From the KJV:

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified

Gal 3:10-11 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Gal 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Gal 3:24-26 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Gal 5:4-6 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Cordially, Bernard
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robert j
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by robert j » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:16 am

In Paul’s letters and in James the terms works, the law, and works of the law are used in a somewhat inconsistent and confusing manner.

In both Paul and James both faith and good works (moral and beneficent behavior) are required, but the emphasis differs with Paul emphasizing faith, and James more balanced or perhaps even emphasizing good works.

The letter James is quite vague on the law in terms of the Mosaic rituals. He writes about the (perfect) law of liberty (James 1:25 and 2:12). But the author of James does refer to the laws of the Torah ---

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2:8-12)

Paul expresses similar concepts ---

For as many as are of works of the Law are under a curse, for it has been written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue all things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them." (Galatians 3:10)

And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. (Galatians 5:3)

Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:19)

Yet, Paul also wrote that the Mosaic laws could not provide justification ---

Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

So which is it according to Paul --- does keeping the whole law provide justification or not?

Paul touches on the problem in Galatians, but the problem is more clearly presented by the author of Romans --- human flesh is weak and not capable of keeping the entire law ---

For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law … for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good … For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate … For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is notFor what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit … because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so ... (Romans 7:7 – 8:7)


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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Bernard Muller » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:34 pm

According to my studies, Paul's attitude towards the Law changed during his "ministry".

At first he was fairly in favor of the Law, even he thought circumcision is nothing.
1 Co 7:18-19 "Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised [let him stay Jew]. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God [the law].
Paul even mentioned the Law to support his arguments:
1 Co 9:8-9 "Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, ..."
1 Co 4:20-21 "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord."

Note: I am certain 1 Co 15:56 is an interpolation, as explained here: http://historical-jesus.info/co1c.html#adf

However later, in 'Galatians' & 'Romans', the Law of Moses is most often described as a curse or bringing death & sin and needing to be scrapped.
Gal 2:16b "... for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."
Gal 2:21 "... for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Gal 3:10a "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse ..."
Gal 3:13a "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law ..."
Ro 3:20 Darby "Wherefore by works of law no flesh shall be justified before him; for by law [is] knowledge of sin."
Ro 7:8b-9a "For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died."
Ro 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
Ro 10:4 "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

So what was the turning point? Obviously Jewish Christian preachers trying to get Paul's converts in Galatia switch to their beliefs. Paul heard about it and then wrote his very emotional epistle, taking a firm position against the value of the Law.

Note: I do not think Gal 3:10 and 5:3 should be thought as Paul then being in sync with James about the Law. That should be understood as:
Yes, Jews are under obligation to obey the whole Law but (according to the rest of the letter) the Law is a curse to make you sin. Because it is quasi-impossible to comply with all the many elements (hundred) of the Law. The Solution: faith in Christ Jesus as the redeemer and simplify the Law as "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."" (Gal 5:14)
Gal 3:10 "For as many as are of works of the Law are under a curse, for it has been written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue all things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them."
Gal 5:3 "And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law."

Cordially, Bernard
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John2
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by John2 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:47 pm

I think all this stems from Paul's MO in 1 Cor. 9:20-22 rather than him changing his views. He's kind of deliberately like a ...what's the word I'm looking for ... something that when you look at it you see what you want to see.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), to win those under the law. To those without the law I became like one without the law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the law ... I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some.


Given this, can you blame Jewish Christians if they were "under the impression that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe our customs"? Can you blame robert j or Ben for having their impressions? But in the end, I think it's fair to say that Paul's "gospel" at least included being "without the law."

And I think what he calls the "law of Christ" is what he means by "keeping of the commandments of God" (as per 1 Cor. 7:19), like in 1 Cor. 7:10-11:
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.


I just don't think "keeping the commandments of God" can mean the Torah, because right before this he says:
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.
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