Paul and James: The Teaching of Both Compared on the Matters of Faith & Works

Paul and James

The Teaching of Both Compared

Paul and James did not contradict each other; but rather they complemented each other. What both men wrote was inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and true. Paul’s focus was on the unsaved man and how he might get right with God. James’ focus was on the saved person and how he might show his faith and demonstrate the reality of his faith.


Paul’s Teaching James’ Teaching
You cannot be saved by works(Ephesians 2:8-9) You cannot show that you are saved without works (James 2:14,18)
How can a person be saved?By faith alone (Rom. 3:28) How can a person show that he is saved? How can he “show his faith”?Only by works (James 2:18)
Faith without works saves (Romans 3:28)This is a living faith (saving faith) Faith without works does not save (James 2:14)This is a dead faith (James 2:17,20,26)
Faith alone saves The faith that saves is not alone
A person is not saved by works(“works” are rejected by Paul as the means of salvation:it is wrong to say that a person must do good works in order to be saved)These are meritorious works, that is, works done to try to merit or earn salvation A saved person will perform good works(“works” are understood by James to be the result of salvation: a person does good works because he is saved)These are faith works, that is, works that spring from a faith that is real and living.
Paul agreed with JamesHe taught that good works must accompany saving faith (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 3:8; Gal. 5:6; Phil. 2:11-12). James agreed with PaulHe taught that a person inherits the kingdom only by faith (James 2:5) and that Abraham was justified by faith (James 2:23)
Paul used the example of Abraham when he first believed in God (Rom. 4:3 and compare Genesis 15:6). James used the example of Abraham when his faith was tested by God, about 40 years later (James 2:21 and compare Genesis 22)
The error Paul corrected:Salvation is by the works of the law (the error of legalism) The error that James corrected:Works are unnecessary after a person is saved (the error of antinomianism)
Paul wrote about how a guilty sinner may be justified before God. James wrote about how a believer can show that his faith is genuine (justification or vindication before men)
At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 the key issue was that salvation is by grace through faith and not by the works of the law. See the error in Acts 15:1 and Peter’s conclusion in Acts 15:9,11. James, who took a lead role in this discussion never voiced any disagreement with Peter or Paul over this crucial matter.
Paul’s perspective: He was viewing the guilty sinner who needed to be right with God. (The sinner is in view) James’ perspective: He was viewing the believer (or professing believer) who needed to demonstrate that his faith was real. (The believer is in view)
THe above information may be downloaded in a single page chart here.

James: Bond Slave-part 2


James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. James 1:1


Today we will focus upon the first half of verse one.

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…

James identified himself as a bond-servant (more here). As William MacDonald has stated in Believer’s Bible Commentary,

“At one time, he had not believed in the Lord Jesus (John 7:5). He may have shared the view that Jesus was out of His mind (Mark 3:21). But our Lord patiently sowed the seed of the word. Though unappreciated, He taught the great principles of the kingdom of God. Then the seed took root in the life of James. A mighty transformation resulted. The skeptic became a servant. And he wasn’t ashamed to say so!

The skeptic became a servant…a slave to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. James was not alone in using this description. Being a servant, a bond-servant, a slave of Jesus Christ is the essence of the Christian life. The apostle Paul often described himself as a bond-servant of Jesus (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1). The apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and Jude (Jude 1) did also (by the way, Jude is also the half brother of Jesus on their mother’s side).

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…

James called himself a bond-servant of God AND the Lord Jesus Christ. This speaks of Christ’s Deity. If Jesus were not God it would be idolatrous for James to say that he was a servant of God and also of Jesus Christ. Anytime God and Jesus Christ are included together like this, the Bible is telling us that they are equal. No mere man could be spoken of in direct connection with God. Four times in Isaiah the Bible says there is no God beside the Creator Jehovah God (Isa. 44:6, 8; 45:5, 21). Exodus 34:14 says, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

Why would James make this assertion that Jesus is equal with God? James had come to believe in Jesus as “the Lord Jesus Christ”.  
LORD – Master
JESUS – Savior

CHRIST – Messiah, the anointed one, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

We hear a lot of references to just “Jesus” today. But when we are addressing Him, we should recognize Him for who he is: the Lord Jesus Christ! We would do well to remember today, as James did, that Jesus is the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should remember that:
1. Jesus did indeed claim to be God (John 10:30-33).
2. Jesus accepted worship as God.
     a. Six times in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus accepted worship (Mat. 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9).
     b. Thomas worshipped Christ and called Him God (John 20:28).
     c. Unlike the elect angels and the apostles who refused to accept worship (Acts 14:11-15; Rev. 19:10), not once did Jesus refuse it. The Bible teaches that it is idolatry and wickedness to worship anyone or anything other than the one true and living God (Ex. 20:3-5; 34:14; Isa. 42:8; Mat. 4:10). Therefore, the fact that Jesus accepted worship is indisputable evidence that he was and is Almighty God.
3. Moreover, Jesus is called God many times in the New Testament Epistles. See Philippians 2:5-6; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8-9; 1 John 5:18.  This is not an isolated instance from a misled or delusional half-brother. This statement is a direct reference to the fact that Jesus is the Christ and Lord.
What about us? Do we recognize Jesus as the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you surrendered to His will? Is Jesus Christ your Lord…your Master? Are you His slave? Are you guilty (like much of the realm of Christendom) of asking Jesus to be your Savior and not surrender to His Lordship?
Our knees MUST bow to King Jesus! We have two choices:
-We bow down now willingly, or
-We will be forced to bow and acknowledge the Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ!
Until tomorrow, Keep looking for our blessed hope…
Pastor Kevin