Seest thou how faith wrought - Here is a proof that faith cannot exist without being active in works of righteousness. His faith in God would have been of no avail to him, had it not been manifested by works; for by works - by his obedience to the commands of God, his faith was made perfect - it dictated obedience, he obeyed; and thus faith ετελειωθη, had its consummation. Even true faith will soon die, if its possessor do not live in the spirit of obedience.
Seest thou - Margin, “Thou seest.” Either rendering is correct, and the sense is the same. The apostle means to say that this was so plain that they could not but see it.
How faith wrought with his works - συνήργει sunērgeiCooperated with. The meaning of the word is, “to work together with anyone; to co operate,” 1 Corinthians 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1; then to aid, or help, Mark 16:20; to contribute to the production of any result, where two or more persons or agents are united. Compare Romans 8:28. The idea here is, that the result in the case of Abraham, that is, his salvation, or his religion, was secured, not by one of these things alone, but that both contributed to it. The result which was reached, to wit, his acceptance with God, could not have been obtained by either one of them separately, but both, in some sense, entered into it. The apostle does not say that, in regard to the merit which justifies, they came in for an equal share, for he makes no affirmation on that point; he does not deny that in the sight of God, who foresees and knows all things, he was regarded as a justified man the moment he believed, but he looks at the result as it was, at Abraham as he appeared under the trial of his faith, and says that in that result there was to be seen the co-operation of faith and good works. Both contributed to the end, as they do now in all cases where there is true religion.
(By the somewhat unhappy term “merit,” the author clearly means nothing more than “principle,” as is obvious from his acute and evangelical comment on the verse; as well as from the admirable reconciliation of Paul and James below.)
And by works was faith made perfect - Made complete, finished, or entire. It was so carried out as to show its legitimate and fair results. This does not mean that the faith in itself was defective before this, and that the defect was remedied by good works; or that there is any deficiency in what the right kind of faith can do in the matter of justification, which is to be helped out by good works; but that there was that kind of completion which a thing has when it is fully developed, or is fairly carried out.
The faith mentioned in God's Word calls for a life in which faith in Christ is an active, living principle. It is God's will that faith in Christ shall be made perfect by works; He connects the salvation and eternal life of those who believe, with these works, and through them provides for the light of truth to go to all countries and peoples. This is the fruit of the workings of God's Spirit. HP 109.3Read in context »
The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. “Seest thou,” he says, “how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” This genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience. RC 79.4Read in context »
Genuine faith will be manifested in good works; for good works are the fruits of faith. As God works in the heart, and man surrenders his will to God, and cooperates with God, he works out in the life what God works in by the Holy Spirit, and there is harmony between the purpose of the heart and the practice of the life. Every sin must be renounced as the hateful thing that crucified the Lord of life and glory, and the believer must have a progressive experience by continually doing the works of Christ. It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained. 1SM 397.1
Those who are justified by faith must have a heart to keep the way of the Lord. It is an evidence that a man is not justified by faith when his works do not correspond to his profession. James says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was his faith made perfect?” (James 2:22). 1SM 397.2Read in context »
But do all that we may, we cannot pay a ransom for our souls. We can do nothing to originate faith, for faith is the gift of God; neither can we perfect it, for Christ is the finisher of our faith. It is all of Christ. All the longing after a better life is from Christ, and is an evidence that He is drawing you to Himself and that you are responding to His drawing power.—The Bible Echo, May 15, 1892. 3SM 198.3Read in context »