21Ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης. 2ἐὰν γὰρ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ, εἰσέλθῃ δὲ καὶ πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι, 3ἐπιβλέψητε δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν φοροῦντα τὴν ἐσθῆτα τὴν λαμπρὰν καὶ εἴπητε· σὺ κάθου ὧδε καλῶς, καὶ τῷ πτωχῷ εἴπητε· σὺ στῆθι ἢ κάθου ἐκεῖ ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιόν μου, 4καὶ οὐ διεκρίθητε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς καὶ ἐγένεσθε κριταὶ διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν; 5ἀκούσατε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί· οὐχ ὁ θεὸς ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ πλουσίους ἐν πίστει καὶ κληρονόμους τῆς βασιλείας ἧς ἐπηγγείλατο τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτόν; 6ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠτιμάσατε τὸν πτωχόν. οὐχ οἱ πλούσιοι καταδυναστεύουσιν ὑμῶν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἕλκουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς κριτήρια; 7οὐκ αὐτοὶ βλασφημοῦσιν τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς;
The writer continues to discuss how faith and action integrate. The new topic seems to be marked by the vocative ἀδελφοί μου linked with a prohibition (μὴ…ἔχετε). He sets the adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν προσωπολημψίαις before the verb, in the focal position of the clause. It may express the manner or the conditions in which a believer should not exercise faith. BDAG notes that προσωπολημψία and its cognates “have so far only been found in Christian writers. They are based on the πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν of the LXX, which in turn is modeled on the Hebrew” (887). τὴν πίστιν functions as the direct object. It has a genitive modifier (τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν) that in turn has an appositional component (Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ). The first person plural genitive pronoun probably is a genitive of subordination. When πίστις is modified by the genitive τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, we must consider how context might direct our interpretation. Is the genitive objective, “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” or subjective genitive, “faith that our Lord Jesus Christ displayed.” Further the relationship of final genitive τῆς δόξης to the previous genitives can be explained variously, i.e., it is an attributive genitive modifying τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“our glorious Lord Jesus Christ”), or may be appositional, i.e., “our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory.”
In verse 2 the writer provides an explanation (marked by γάρ) for the instruction in verse 1. He provides a case study using a third class condition (ἐάν + subjunctive), expressing an hypothetical situation. The adverbial phrase εἰς συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν indicates the place into which the subject moves. συναγωγή is the usual term for describing a Jewish worship/community centre. However, since it is modified by ὑμῶν it would seem to be a ‘Jewish-Christian’ centre. However, Christians normally did not have stand-alone structures for worship, but met in houses. So if this is a building in which ‘Jewish-Christians’ met, had they taken over the local Jewish synagogue or built one for themselves? However, the term need not refer to a physical structure, but a meeting held in some location. Presumably the terms συναγωγή / ἐκκλησία were interchangeable in the early Christian community (as they were in the LXX Pentateuch to describe the people of Israel). The subject ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος follows the verb phrase. Note his choice of ἀνήρ and this is probably purposeful, because women would probably not engage in this function in a ‘synagogue’. The adjective χρυσοδακτύλιος (hapax legomenon) is in the second attributive position, modifying an anarthrous noun. This is the first attestation of this adjective, but the meaning seems clear, i.e., a person wearing a gold ring, that presumably is a sign of wealth and/or position. The phrase ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ characterizes the person as wearing “a lustrous/splendid garment,” another indicator of wealth. Note again that the adjective follows the noun.
A second part of the protasis is introduced by ἐισέλθῃ δέ with the δέ probably adversative. καί is ascensive, modifying πτωχός, the subject of the verb. It is an adjective functioning substantivally. ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι defines the manner in which the poor person is attired and contrasts with the previous ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ. In the second phrase the adjective precedes the noun. ῥυπαρός means something that is dirty, filthy, soiled (BDAG, 908; cf. the cognate noun used in 1:21).
The third part of the protasis fills v. 3. The particle with ἐπιβλέψητε δὲ…καὶ εἴπητε could be conjunctive, i.e., “and if you observe…and say….” ἐπιβλέπω ἐπί + accusative has the sense “look intently upon,” perhaps with a sense of fawning over. The object of the preposition is the substantival present participle τὸν φοροῦντα (φορέω means “carry or bear something habitually and often applies to wearing clothes”). The article with the object of the participle τὴν ἐσθῆτα τὴν λαμπρὰν is probably anaphoric in function and the adjective in the second attributive position probably carries some prominence. Following the verb of speech (εἴπητε) the direct discourse functions as the object. σὺ κάθου ὧδε καλῶς is probably to be taken as a polite command. κάθου is the pres. middle imperative of κάθημαι “sit.” καλῶς can have the sense “rightly, deservedly.” The third part of the protasis continues with instruction to the poor person καὶ τῷ πτωχῷ εἴπητε. The indirect object precedes the verb, giving it prominence. The writer expands the direct speech, using two imperatives σὺ στῆθι ἢ κάθου. He repeats κάθου and connects it with the second aorist active imperative στῆθι (ἵστημι). ἐκεῖ suggests a dismissive gesture. The adverbial phrase ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιόν μου suggest that the one speaking has a seat, but points the impoverished person to a place on the floor, “below my footstool.” Various mss. read ἐπί and that might suggest the sense “on my footstool.”
The compound apodosis occurs in v. 4 and it is in the form of a negative (οὐ) question that expects a positive answer. καί 1˚ is probably ascensive, “also, indeed.” The writer used διακρίνομαι in 1:6 with the sense “waver, doubt.” Adam (James. BHGNT, 38) argues for the sense “are you not at odds,” but since this is an aorist passive verb form, perhaps it should be “have you not become at odds”? ἐν ἑαυτοῖς has the sense “among yourselves,” with a metaphorical spatial sense. He continues with a second aorist verb ἐγένεσθε (“have become”) completed with a predicate nominative κριταί (“judges”). The genitive modifier διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν may be an objective genitive. διαλογισμῶν could just mean “thoughts,” but in legal contexts can refer to “decisions.” Note again the position of the adjective following the noun. This case study in some sense describes actions that are hypocritical, at odds with the values of the faith commitment they have confessed.
The writer in v. 5 drives home the conclusion that the implied audience should draw from his case study. He emphasizes this with the aorist imperative ἀκούσατε, followed by the vocative of address ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί (cf. 1:16, 19). The content of the message is another negative (οὐχ; this form precedes rough breathing) interrogative clause expecting a positive answer. The subject ὁ θεός precedes the verb, receiving prominence. The aorist middle tense form ἐξελέξατο (“chosen, selected”) indicates a completed action in the past. God has demonstrated this principle in previous actions. The object of the verb is τοὺς πτωχούς, that is modified by the dative τῷ κόσμῳ defining in what respect they might be considered poor (i.e., in worldly goods), or perhaps it has the sense of poor “in the estimation of the world,” or it may simply be locative, i.e., “poor in the world.” The writer follows this immediately with πλουσίους…καὶ κληρονόμους. These adjectives/substantives probably function as predicate nominatives related to an implied infinitive εἶναι, defining the purpose for the selection. This fits with their anarthrous character. ἐν πίστει a dative of reference that modifies πλουσίους, perhaps paralleling the previous construction. The second adjective/substantive also has a modifier, an objective genitive, τῆς βασιλείας. The writer defines it with a following relative clause. God is subject of ἐπηγγείλατο (“he promised”; cf. 1:12). ἧς is a genitive by attraction to the previous noun, but it functions as the object of the verb. τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτόν is a present active participle functioning as the indirect object and modified by the object αὐτόν. This expression perhaps indirectly defines τοὺς πτωχούς (cf. Matt. 5:3).
The initial clause in v. 6 may contrast God’s estimation of such people with how people in the implied audience have treated such individuals, with δέ marking this adversative sense. The expressed subject ὑμεῖς may add to this sense of contrast. If they have behaved as described in v. 3, then “you have dishonored (ἠτιμάσατε) the poor person.” The writer continues with another negative interrogative that expects a positive answer in agreement (οὐχ + present indicative). He places the subject first in the clause (οἱ πλούσιοι) and describes their action as καταδυναστεύσουσιν, i.e., “to oppress, exploit, dominate” (BDAG, 516; cf. Acts 10:38). This verb takes a genitive complement, indicating subordination. His second criticism is that they are responsible for legal action that destroys the lives of the poor. He uses the emphatic pronoun αὐτοί to mark the subject of ἕλκουσιν (“lead, drag”). The place to which the objects (ὑμᾶς) are dragged is εἰς κριτήρια, ”lawcourts, tribunals” (BDAG, 570.1). This noun could also mean “lawsuits, legal actions.” The writer includes members of his implied audience in this oppressed group.
A third criticism of these wealthy people occurs in v. 7. The writer uses another negative (οὐκ) interrogative implying a positive answer. Again he employs the intensive αὐτοί with a present indicative verb βλασφημοῦσιν (“slander, profane, blaspheme”). The direct object τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα presumably is the name of the deity and in this context suggests ownership or identity. He specifies the identity of this name with the adjectival, aorist passive participle τὸ ἐπικληθέν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς “which has been called over you,” designating you as property of someone (BDAG, 373, 2; cf. Acts 15:17). This echoes language found in Amos 9:12 (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, ἐφ’ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπ’ αὐτούς, λέγει κύριος ὁ ποῶν ταῦτα). James quotes this text in Acts 15:17 as he summarizes the decision of the early church with respect to the inclusion of non-Jews in the Messianic movement. Similar language occurs in Joel 3:5 that Peter quotes in Acts 2:21, but in that case the verb is active and the subject is a human being. If the writer is referencing the text in Amos 9, does this have any implications for the ethnic background of the audience he is addressing?
8Εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν· ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε· 9εἰ δὲ προσωπολημπτεῖτε, ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε ἐλεγχόμενοι ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου ὡς παραβάται. 10ὅστις γὰρ ὅλον τὸν νόμον τηρήσῃ, πταίσῃ δὲ ἐν ἑνί, γέγονεν πάντων ἔνοχος. 11ὁ γὰρ εἰπών· μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, εἶπεν καί· μὴ φονεύσῃς · εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύεις, φονεύεις δέ, γέγονας παραβάτης νόμου.
The writer continues his discussion about favoritism, using two contrasting conditional statements. The first is a first class condition, marked by εἰ + present indicative (τελεῖτε). τελέω presumably here has the sense “bring to fulfillment, implement.” The apodosis is καλῶς ποιεῖτε. The particle μέντοι has an emphatic nuance here “indeed, actually.” In the protasis the writer places the object in the focal point of the clause, before the verb and positions its adjective after the verb (hyperbaton; cf. 1:2) – νόμον…βασιλικόν (“royal,” perhaps in the sense of promulgated by a king). It may echo the earlier reference to βασιλεῖα in 1:5). κατὰ τὴν γραφήν is an adverbial prepositional phrase that could modify the verb (in accordance with the scripture) or might modify the adjective (preeminent in the scripture). The phrase probably marks the citation of Lev. 19:18 that follows (ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν), a verbatim quote from the OG Lev. It contains the comparative expression ὡς σεαυτόν that implies the repetition of the verb ἀγαπήσεις.
Using δέ to mark a new topic, but with an adversative nuance, the writer adds a second conditional clause in v. 9. It also is a first class condition marked by εἰ + present indicative. He employs the compound verb προσωπολημπτέω “show favoritism, partiality” and this is its only occurrence in the NT. It is first attested in Greek literature in Jam. 2:8. In the apodosis the writer places the object before the verb, giving it prominence. ἐργάζομαι ἁμαρτίαν means “commit a sin” (cf. 1:20 δικασιοσύνην…κατεργάζεται). The present tense gives the statement a gnomic nuance, i.e., something true for all time. The adverbial present passive participle ἐλεγχόμενοι relates to the subject and gives the cause for this declaration. The participle has the sense “being exposed, proven, convicted.” The ‘agent’ that convicts is expressed in the ὑπό adverbial phrase. The article may be anaphoric, referencing νόμος in v. 8, i.e., the Torah. ὡς παραβάται (“transgressors”) is a nominative plural in a comparative frame and modifies the subject of the verb ἐργάζεσθε.
The initial γάρ in v. 10 marks an explanation for the conclusion expressed in the apodosis of v. 9. The relative clause ὅστις…τηρήσῃ πταίσῃ functions as the subject of γέγονεν, but the pronoun does not have a specific antecedent (it is ‘headless’). This relative pronoun may have a more general sense, i.e., “who may be of the kind….” In the mss. tradition there is consideration variation regarding the verb τηρήσῃ, but this verb form is found in א B C 1852. It is an aorist subjunctive tense form and adds to the generalizing sense of the pronoun, “who is of the kind who might keep….” What is the semantic relationship between τελέω νόμον and τηρέω νόμον (vv. 8, 10)? The protasis has a second part marked by the adversative δέ and the aorist subjunctive πταίσῃ (“should stumble, trip”). ἐν ἑνί describes the manner of the stumbling (“in one matter”), or the idea of reference. The main verb is a perfect active indicative γέγονεν indicating the state resulting from the transgression, “he stands/has become and so is guilty of them all.” ἔνοχος is a predicate adjective, modified by the genitive πάντων that defines the standard over against which the violation has occurred.
The writer continues with additional explanation marked by γάρ in v. 11. He provides an example illustrating the previous principle. ὁ εἰπών is a substantival participle functioning as the subject of εἶπεν that is modified by an ascensive καί. Both verb forms of λέγω have a quote functioning as the object. They are two of the ten commands Ex. 20:13, 15 μὴ μοιχεύσῃς…μὴ φονεύσῃς (OG Exodus reads οὐ μοιχεύσεις…οὐ φονεύσεις; Deut 5:17 reads the same prohibitions, but sequentially). μή + aorist subjunctive is a more idiomatic form of prohibition in Koine Greek (cf. the list in Mark 10:19 and Luke 18:20, that has a different order). Matt. 19:18 follows the form of prohibition in OG Exodus, but has the same order as Mark’s Gospel. The second part of v. 11 is another first class condition clause that applies the information expressed in the v. 11a. δέ is continuative (“now”) and marks a new topic in the argument. The second δέ is adversative, indicating the contrast between οὐ μοιχεύεις, φονεύεις. He uses a perfect indicative active tense form γέγονας in the apodosis (cf. v. 10). παραβάτης νόμου is a predicate nominative phrase. The genitive is probably an objective genitive indicating what is violated. The anarthrous singular noun could mean “law” generally, or “a law,” one of many.
12Οὕτως λαλεῖτε καὶ οὕτως ποιεῖτε ὡς διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι. 13ἡ γὰρ κρίσις ἀνέλεος τῷ μὴ ποιήσαντι ἔλεος· κατακαυχᾶται ἔλεος κρίσεως.
The writer continues to emphasize verbal and active modes of confession (λαλεῖτε…ποιεῖτε). He employs the correlative particles οὕτως…οὕτως…ὡς (so…so…as) to stimulate a positive responsive (for different uses of οὕτως in James see 1:11 (ὡς…οὕτως); 2:17, 26; 3:5, 10). He begins with two present active imperatives. I think μέλλοντες (nom. plural present active participle) functions as a substantive and subject of the comparison ὡς clause. It is complemented by the present passive infinitive κρίνεσθαι, to give a future sense “those going to be judged/evaluated.” The legal standard used for this evaluation is expressed in the adverbial phrase διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας, with the second genitive noun functioning attributively and characterizing the “law.” This probably refers to “the royal law” mentioned in 2:8.
In v. 13 he offers further rationale to explain his instructions, marking it with γάρ. The first clause is a nominal clause with the subject identified by the article ἡ…κρίσις (“act of judging, judgment” BDAG, 569.1). ἀνέλεος is an alpha-privative two termination adjective and functions as the predicate adjective characterizing the κρίσις. The dative substantival, aorist active participle τῷ μὴ ποιήσαντι, indicates the one disadvantaged by this merciless judgment. The verb picks up the imperative ποιεῖτε in v. 12. It is modified by the object ἔλεος. “to do mercy” is “to show mercy” and this is a Septuagintalism (cf. Gen. 24:44, 49). The second clause presents a general theological principle that forms the foundation for what has preceded. κατακαυχᾶται is the present middle indicative, third person singular form of κατακαυχάομαι, the simplex form of which the writer used in 1:9 (“boast”). This compound form means “to have a cause for boasting because of advantage in power, triumph over” with a genitive object (BDAG, 517.2). This same verb occurs in Jam. 3:14 and possibly 4:16 with the sense “to boast at the expense of another, boast against, exult over” (BDAG, 517.1). The genitive κρίσεως marks the object. Presumably these verses direct attention to the final judgment and hope for the reward of the crown of life mentioned in 1:12.
14Τί τὸ ὄφελος, ἀδελφοί μου, ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν, ἔργα δὲ μὴ ἔχῃ; μὴ δύναται ἡ πίστις σῶσαι αὐτόν; 15ἐὰν ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ γυμνοὶ ὑπάρχωσιν καὶ λειπόμενοι ὦσιν τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς, 16εἴπῃ δέ τις αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὑμῶν· ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε, μὴ δῶτε δὲ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος, τί τὸ ὄφελος; 17οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις, ἐὰν μὴ ἔχῃ ἔργα, νεκρά ἐστιν καθ’ ἑαυτήν.
In v. 14 the writer continues the discussion about the necessity of integrating confession with conduct. He begins with a rhetorical question marked by τί. The question is formed as a nominal clause. The interrogative forms the predicate and the subject τὸ ὄφελος (“benefit, advantage”) is marked by the article. He uses the vocative ἀδελφοί μου, to identify those being addressed. The question forms the apodosis of a conditional clause, that forms a third class condition (ἐάν…λέγῃ). This expresses a possibility that may or may not be real. The use of the indefinite pronoun τις as subject adds a nuance of contingency. With the verb of speaking λέγῃ, the writer uses a present active infinitive (ἔχειν) to indicate the main verb in the indirect speech. The subject of the indirect speech clause is the same as the subject of the main verb and so it is not repeated. The object of the verb in the indirect speech is πίστιν and the writer brings it forward and places it before the main verb, in the focal point of the condition. δέ marks a contrasting condition whose main verb is the present subjunctive ἔχῃ. The writer again places the object ἔργα at the head of the clause. He follows this up with a second interrogative that challenges some assumptions. The article with the subject ἡ πίστις is probably anaphoric, referencing the previous πίστιν. The negative μή signals a negative answer is expected to this question. δύναμαι is normally completed by a complementary aorist infinitive σῶσαι, that is modified by the object αὐτόν.
- 15-16 form one complex interrogative clause, with the interrogative clause τί τὸ ὄφελος forming the apodosis. This clause repeats the clause with which v. 14 begins. The condition is formed as a third class condition marked by ἐάν followed by the present subjunctive verbs ὑπάρχωσιν καὶ λειπόμενοι ὦσιν. The second verb phrase is a periphrastic tense, formed with the present subjunctive of εἰμι plus a present middle participle (“lack”). ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ is a correlative phrase that functions as the subject. Given that the writer uses both the masculine and feminine forms of this noun, does this provide any guidance for interpreting ἀδελφοί μου used in v. 14? The adjective γυμνοὶ is the predicate (“naked”) used with ὑπάρχω and is plural reflecting the compound subject. The verb λείπω uses a genitive complement to describe the daily food that is needed (cf. the usage in 1:5). The second part of this condition is marked by δέ, again with a contrasting nuance, describing the response to the needs of the people described in the first part of the condition. The subject of the main verb is a partitive genitive construction (τις…ἐξ ὑμῶν). In this clause the main verb is the aorist subjunctive εἴπῃ (contrast this with the present subjunctive λέγῃ in v. 14). What aspectual nuancing might be occurring with this alternation? The object of the verb εἴπῃ is the direct speech expressed with three present imperatives (ὑπάγετε…θερμαίνεσθε…χορτάζεσθε). The first of these imperatives is modified by the adverbial phrase ἐν εἰρήνῃ (describing manner). The last clause of the condition is the negative μὴ δῶτε, an aorist subjunctive, and the subject is an ad sensum adjustment (second person plural) based on the previous partitive genitive τις…ἐξ ὑμῶν. This verb usually takes a indirect (αὐτοῖς) and direct (τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος) object. ἐπιτήδειος is an adjective functioning as a plural noun with the sense “the necessary things.” This is defined more specifically by the genitive σώματος.
οὕτως καί (v. 17) introduces the ‘conclusion’ to this case study. The καί is ascensive, probably modifying ἡ πίστις, with the article again functioning anaphorically. In the third class conditional clause (ἐάν + ἔχῃ) the subject is ἡ πίστις. This is a little unusual given the contrast expressed in v. 14 between faith and works. The apodosis is an equative clause, with ἐστιν and a predicate adjective νεκρά (“dead”). The adverbial prepositional phrase καθ’ ἑαυτήν means “by oneself” (BDAG, 268.1.ζ).
18Ἀλλ’ ἐρεῖ τις· σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω. δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πίστιν σου χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων, κἀγώ σοι δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν. 19σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός, καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν.
The writer continues this imaginary dialogue. The initial ἀλλά introduces an alternative proposition or objection to the previous declaration. He continues with the indefinite pronoun τις but places it after the future verb ἐρεῖ. What follows is the direct speech of the respondent, functioning as the object of the verb. It is unclear whether the response ends at ἔχω or at the end of the verse (18). The respondent seems to challenge the conclusion in v. 17. The two parts of the response are neatly balanced in their word order with a pronominal subject + object + verb. κἀγώ is a contraction of καὶ ἐγώ. The speaker seems to shift with the aorist imperative δεῖξόν, a form of δείκνυμι “point out, show,” as the initial speaker responds to the objection. The first speaker repeats the verb using the future form δείξω in the following clause. This verb normally takes a direct and indirect object. The article with τὴν πίστιν σου could be deictic in force with the sense “this ‘faith’ of yours.” The respondent places all weight on works to the exclusion of faith. The speaker challenges this as insufficient and requires faith as a separate requirement for relationship with God — χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων. χωρίς is one of a number of ‘improper’ prepositions (not occurring in verb compounds) and takes the genitive case (“without, apart from”). In the second part of the speaker’s response, a pronominal subject comes first and the indirect object precedes the verb, in the focal point of the clause. ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου suggests a source as the first speaker claims that faith motivates and grounds his “works,” i.e., “these works of mine.” The article in the noun phrase τὴν πίστιν may indicate specificity, i.e., “my faith,” or it could have a par excellence nuance, the kind of faith that is the best kind.
The writer follows this up in v. 19 by switching to the cognate verb πιστεύω as he describes a kind of faith that is substandard and expressed by demons. He begins with another explicit pronominal subject preceding the verb and referring to the respondent who made the objection. He marks the indirect discourse with ὅτι that introduces a content clause functioning as the object of the verb. The principle voiced is an equative clause whose subject is marked by the article — ὁ θεός. This is the fundamental dictum of Jewish theology – the “Shema.” καλῶς ποιεῖς may have a sarcastic nuance to it, because of what follows. καί is probably ascensive here. Again, he positions the subject τὰ δαιμόνια before the compound verb πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν. φρίσσω means “to tremble fr[om] fear, shudder” (BDAG, 1065). According to LSJ (1955) it has the sense of “bristle, ruffle,” i.e., hair standing on end (not that demons have hair!).
20Θέλεις δὲ γνῶναι, ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ, ὅτι ἡ πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων ἀργή ἐστιν; 21Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη ἀνενέγκας Ἰσαὰκ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον; 22βλέπεις ὅτι ἡ πίστις συνήργει τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἔργων ἡ πίστις ἐτελειώθη, 23καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα· ἐπίστευσεν δὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην καὶ φίλος θεοῦ ἐκλήθη. 24ὁρᾶτε ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον. 25ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη ὑποδεξαμένη τοὺς ἀγγέλους καὶ ἑτέρᾳ ὁδῷ ἐκβαλοῦσα; 26ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν, οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις χωρὶς ἔργων νεκρά ἐστιν.
The writer marks a new topic using δέ, a rhetorical question, and a vocative ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ. The verb θέλω usually takes a complementary infinitive (γνῶναι). ἄνθρωπε κενέ shows the vocative singular case ending for second declension nouns. The adjective again follows the noun. ὅτι marks an object clause of indirect speech modifying the previous infinitive. The article with ἡ πίστις indicates the subject of the equative clause. The prepositional phrase χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων defines the kind of faith being discussed. The predicate adjective ἀργή precedes the verb and is in the focal point of the clause.
A second question follows in v. 21. Ἀβραάμ is an indeclinable proper name, but its case is made clear by the appositional modifier ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν. What is the significance of the first person plural genitive pronoun, defining kinship? πατήρ signifies “ancestor.” The negative οὐκ indicates that a positive answer is expected. ἐξ ἔργων is an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying the following verb and defines source, perhaps with a causal nuance. ἐδικαιώθη is an aorist indicative passive form. The aorist active participle ἀνενέγκας (ἀναφέρω commonly describes offering sacrifices in the LXX) is adverbial and may be circumstantial, temporal, or causal. Ἰσαὰκ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ functions as the object of the participle, incorporating an indeclinable proper noun with an appositional modifier that explains his relationship to the subject. ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον defines the place where the sacrifice is offered (ἐπί + accusative “on”). In the LXX θυσιαστήριον describes a legitimate altar and seems to be a term the translators either coined or borrowed from the Jewish community in Alexandria.
The writer continues to address his respondent (v. 22) with the present indicative βλέπεις. ὅτι marks an object clause of indirect discourse, that incorporates a compound clausal structure. The article with πίστις is probably anaphoric and references Abraam’s faith. The writer uses an imperfect indicative active verb tense (συνήργει) to indicate the continuing engagement of Abraam’s faith with his actions. Since the verb is formed as a compound with the preposition συν-, it takes its object as a dative to mark association (τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ). He continues in the second clause with the same subject ἡ πίστις. He uses an aorist passive indicative verb ἐτελειώθη to indicate the completion of the action of “maturing, completing, bringing to its goal.” He places the adverbial prepositional phrase at the beginning of the clause to give it prominence and indicate the “origin or cause” of this “maturing or completing process.”
To support his declaration about Abraam the writer quotes Gen. 15:6 in v. 23. He introduces it with a quotation formula and considers “the writing” in Gen. 15:6 to be ἐπληρώθη. How should we understand this aorist passive indicative semantically? ἡ λέγουσα is an attributive participle to which the quote is attached as its object. Only minor differences occur between the quote and its original (as recreated by Wevers in his LXX Genesis edition). The writer uses the postpositive δέ rather than καί as the initial connective (Paul does the same in Rom 4:3) and uses Ἀβραάμ rather than Ἀβράμ. The writer of James may be responsible for the change to δέ in order to accommodate Greek style and also to mark this quotation as an advance in the argument. πιστεύω + dative can mean “have complete confidence in” (BADG, 817.2). ἐκλήθη is another aorist passive indicative. In the active voice this verb, when it means “call someone something,” takes a double accusative. In a passive transformation the object becomes subject and is in the nominative case. The second noun that defines it similarly takes the nominative case (φίλος). The genitive indicates relationship. This phrase does not describe Abraam per se in the Jewish Scriptures, but in Second Temple documents he is so described (e.g., Jub. 19:9; 2 Esd. 3:14; Philo Abr. 273).
In v. 24 the writer switches to a second person plural subject, probably signaling that he is now addressing his audience (ὁρᾶτε). This could be indicative or imperative. ὅτι marks the indirect discourse that functions as an object clause. The writer states a general conclusion based upon the example of Abraam. The ὅτι structure has a positive and a negative clause, with the verb expressed in the first clause (δικαιοῦται present passive indicative) implicit in the second. He employs the generic ἄνθρωπος as subject of both clause. He contrasts the means of “being declared righteous” with the adverbial prepositional phrases ἐξ ἔργων…ἐκ πίστεως. In order to prevent any misunderstanding of his principle, he adds the adverb μόνον in the second clause.
He moves on to a second example in v. 25, namely the non-Jewish woman Ῥαάβ, expressing it as a question expecting a positive answer (οὐκ). Her story occurs in Jos. 2. He signals a new topic with δέ, but shows that it is connected with his previous case that used Abraam, through the adverb ὁμοίως (“similarly”). He gives prominence to the subject Ῥαάβ by using the ascensive καί. That he should use this individual as an example is remarkable when he characterizes her as ἡ πόρνη (cf. Jos. 2:4). He describes her spiritual situation with the same language that he applied to Abraam in v. 21 (ἐκ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη). Just as he described the “work” that Abraam performed in relationship to offering Isaac, so he describes the actions Rahab took to preserve and assist the Israelite spies. He employs two circumstantial aorist participles, one middle ὑποδεξαμένη (with a direct object τοὺς ἀγγέλους) and one active ἐκβαλοῦσας (modified by a dative of manner ἑτέρᾳ ὁδῷ). This terminology does not occur in the LXX text of Jos. 2.
He concludes in v. 26 with a third argument, using an analogy, not an historical example. He marks it as an explanation with γάρ. ὤσπερ marks the analogy (just as) and it is matched by the following co-relative οὕτως (used also in 17). He parallels the wording in the comparative equative clause with the wording in the main equative clause:
τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν
ἡ πίστις χωρὶς ἐργων νεκρά ἐστιν.
He marks the subjects of the equative clauses with the article and places the predicate adjective prior to the verb in both cases. He employs another καί ascensive to give prominence to ἡ πίστις.