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James 2:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The scripture was fulfilled - He believed God; this faith was never inactive, it was accounted to him for righteousness: and being justified by thus believing, his life of obedience showed that he had not received the grace of God in vain. See the notes on Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; (note); Galatians 3:6; (note); where this subject is largely explained.

The friend of God - The highest character ever given to man. As among friends every thing is in common; so God took Abraham into intimate communion with himself, and poured out upon him the choicest of his blessings: for as God can never be in want, because he possesses all things; so Abraham his friend could never be destitute, because God was his friend.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith - That is, the fair and full meaning of the language of Scripture was expressed by this act, showing in the highest sense that his faith was genuine; or the declaration that he truly believed, was confirmed or established by this act. His faith was shown to be genuine; and the fair meaning of the declaration that he believed God was carried out in the subsequent act. The passage here referred to occurs in Genesis 15:6. That which it is said Abraham believed, or in which he believed God, was this: “This shall not be thine heir (namely, Eliezer of Damascus), but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels, shall be thine heir.” And again, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” James 2:3-5. The act of confiding in these promises, was that act of which it is said that “he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

The act of offering his son on the altar by which James says this Scripture was fulfilled, occurred some 20 years afterward. That act confirmed or fulfilled the declaration. It showed that his faith was genuine, and that the declaration that he believed in God was true; for what could do more to confirm that, than a readiness to offer his own son at the command of God? It cannot be supposed that James meant to say that Abraham was justified by works without respect to faith, or to deny that the primary round of his justification in the sight of God was faith, for the very passage which he quotes shows that faith was the primary consideration: “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed,” etc. The meaning, therefore, can only be, that this declaration received its fair and full expression when Abraham, by an act of obedience of the most striking character, long after he first exercised that faith by which he was accepted of God, showed that his faith was genuine. It he had not thus obeyed, his faith would have been inoperative and of no value. As it was, his act showed that the declaration of the Scripture that, he “believed” was well founded.

Abraham believed God, and it was imputed … - See this passage fully explained in the notes at Romans 4:3.

And he was called the friend of God - In virtue of his strong faith and obedience. See 2 Chronicles 20:7; “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever?” Isaiah 41:8. “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.” This was a most honorable appellation; but it is one which, in all cases, will result from true faith and obedience.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith. A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes. Men may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not. There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar favours. We see then, ver. 24, how that by works a man is justified, not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by having such faith as produces good works. And to have to deny his own reason, affections, and interests, is an action fit to try a believer. Observe here, the wonderful power of faith in changing sinners. Rahab's conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power; it showed that she believed with her heart, not merely by an assent of the understanding. Let us then take heed, for the best works, without faith, are dead; they want root and principle. By faith any thing we do is really good; as done in obedience to God, and aiming at his acceptance: the root is as though it were dead, when there is no fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits; and we must see to it that we have both. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it. There is no middle state. Every one must either live God's friend, or God's enemy. Living to God, as it is the consequence of faith, which justifies and will save, obliges us to do nothing against him, but every thing for him and to him.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 342

Lot, Abraham's nephew, though he had made his home in Sodom, was imbued with the patriarch's spirit of kindness and hospitality. Seeing at nightfall two strangers at the city gate, and knowing the dangers sure to beset them in that wicked city, Lot insisted on bringing them to his home. To the peril that might result to himself and his household he gave no thought. It was a part of his lifework to protect the imperiled and to care for the homeless, and the deed performed in kindness to two unknown travelers brought angels to his home. Those whom he sought to protect, protected him. At nightfall he had led them for safety to his door; at the dawn they led him and his household forth in safety from the gate of the doomed city. 6T 342.1

These acts of courtesy God thought of sufficient importance to record in His word; and more than a thousand years later they were referred to by an inspired apostle: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2. 6T 342.2

The privilege granted Abraham and Lot is not denied to us. By showing hospitality to God's children we, too, may receive His angels into our dwellings. Even in our day, angels in human form enter the homes of men and are entertained by them. And Christians who live in the light of God's countenance are always accompanied by unseen angels, and these holy beings leave behind them a blessing in our homes. 6T 342.3

“A lover of hospitality” is among the specifications given by the Holy Spirit as marking one who is to bear responsibility in the church. And to the whole church is given the injunction: “Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:9, 10. 6T 342.4

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 128

Abraham, “the friend of God,” set us a worthy example. His was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was set up his altar, calling all within his encampment to the morning and evening sacrifice. When his tent was removed, the altar remained. In following years, there were those among the roving Canaanites who received instruction from Abraham; and whenever one of these came to that altar, he knew who had been there before him; and when he had pitched his tent, he repaired the altar, and there worshiped the living God. PP 128.1

Abraham continued to journey southward, and again his faith was tested. The heavens withheld their rain, the brooks ceased to flow in the valleys, and the grass withered on the plains. The flocks and herds found no pasture, and starvation threatened the whole encampment. Did not the patriarch now question the leadings of Providence? Did he not look back with longing to the plenty of the Chaldean plains? All were eagerly watching to see what Abraham would do, as trouble after trouble came upon him. So long as his confidence appeared unshaken, they felt that there was hope; they were assured that God was his Friend, and that He was still guiding him. PP 128.2

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 80.4

We may commit the keeping of our souls to God as unto a faithful Creator, not because we are sinless, but because Jesus died to save just such erring, faulty creatures as we are, thus expressing His estimate of the value of the human soul. We may rest upon God, not because of our own merit, but because the righteousness of Christ will be imputed to us.... HP 80.4

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 787.3

When He sees men lifting the burdens, trying to carry them in lowliness of mind, with distrust of self and with reliance upon Him, He adds to their work His perfection and sufficiency, and it is accepted of the Father. We are accepted in the Beloved. The sinner's defects are covered by the perfection and fullness of the Lord our Righteousness. Those who with sincere will, with contrite heart, are putting forth humble efforts to live up to the requirements of God are looked upon by the Father with pitying tender love; He regards such as obedient children, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed unto them.—Letter 4, 1889. 2MCP 787.3

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