Did you get a chance to read over chapter two and jot down the topics, vocabulary and points of interest? If not, why not take some time and do that on your own before you read my notes. Here’s what I’ve got for chapter two.
Major Topics Discussed
- Proper attitudes toward the rich and poor (v.1-14).
- The relationship between faith and works (v. 15-26).
Words and Phrases to Look Up
- How could a person sit under the footstool of someone else (v. 3)?
- Do I have a full understanding of the word justified used in this chapter (v. 21, 24, 25)?
1. Sitting under a footstool
The footstool (hupopodion – literally under foot, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary) was a footrest, or ottoman. The word translated under is also translated below. The idea here is that the poor person is invited to sit on the floor, or at a lower, more humble level.
According Strong’s, the word translated justified is:
Justified (G1344) dik-ah-yo’-o
From G1342; to render (that is, show or regard as) just or innocent: – free, justify (-ier), be righteous.
The same word is used in all three instances in chapter two. It might be worthwhile to do a separate word study of justification, since it appears many times in the New Testament.
Points of Interest / Research
- This is the second time James speaks negatively about rich people. He condemns them in (5:1-6), too. Does God dislike rich people?
- In what way does a person offend in one point, and become guilt of all (v. 10)?
- Martin Luther thought the book of James should not be included in the Bible because of verse 24. How does James’ teaching fit with what the Bible says in other places about being justified by faith alone, and not by works?
- What is the law of liberty and how will believers be judged by it (v.12)?
- Why is Rahab commended for her actions when they involved deception and lying (v. 25)?
Since the first and third questions above tap in to major topics discussed in the book of James, we’ll talk about them when we study the passages in which they appear. Here we’ll look briefly at the other three questions.
2. Offend in one point – guilty of all (v. 10)?
Actually, reading the context of this statement clears it up pretty well. In verse 11, For he that said… also said… makes it clear that any violation of God’s Law is an offense against the Lawgiver. We tend to think of God’s commands as freestanding requirements. James offers a more holistic view of the Law. The Law is an expression of God’s character. No matter how you break the Law – you’re still insulted the Lawgiver it represents.
4. Judged by the law of liberty (v. 12)?
James used the phrase the perfect law of liberty earlier in this letter (1:25). Tracing this back, (1:23-24) compares hearing the word to looking at ourselves in a mirror. (1:22) commands us to be doers of the word, and (1:21) says the engrafted word … is able to save our souls. Finally, (1:18) says God begat us with the word of truth. I think Paul talked about this concept in his letter to the Romans:
(1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1-2)
God graciously saved us by faith. We should, therefore, be the more obedient because of our gratitude. We will have to answer to our Savior for how we have responded to His unmerited grace.
5. Was Rahab righteous (v. 25)?
It’s important to read the Bible carefully. It’s true that Rahab lied to her king (Jos. 2:3-5). But God did not praise her methods; He commended her faith and the fact that she acted on what she believed (Jos. 2:11).
Read through James, chapter three, for tomorrow and make the same kinds of notes you did for today’s study. (Major topics, vocabulary and points of interest) Check back tomorrow and we’ll compare notes.