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By Greg Robbins
Paul used Abraham to prove his argument that we are justified by faith without any works.
Romans 4:1-5 “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God. But what says the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
James also uses Abraham to prove his argument that we are saved by works, and not faith alone.
James 2:20-24 “But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? See how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”
James called the man who claimed faith without works, “O vain man.” I for one do not want to fall into that category. As to who is right, Paul or James, I will let you come to your own conclusions.
Martin Luther dealt with this issue by saying, “Saint James is really an epistle of straw compared to Saint John’s Gospel, his First Epistle, Saint Paul’s Epistles, and Saint Peter’s First Epistle.” (This can be found in the 1524 first and second editions of Martin Luther’s New Testament Translations.)
Jesus lays weight to James’ argument by telling us in
Revelation 22:12-14 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Jesus just told us that he is the last word on the subject. Also, the Book of Revelation was written approximately 29 years after Paul’s death, besides being the last chapter of the entire Bible.
These are my findings concerning these two portions of scripture. I will leave you to make your own conclusion on the matter.