There are no conflicts between James and Paul on the matter of justification by faith. James could not be contradicting Galatians because Galatians had not yet been written! Paul explains that sinners are justified by faith; James explains that a person’s faith is dead unless it is proved by works. We are not saved by works, but the faith that saves us leads to good works. Paul wrote about our standing before God; James wrote about our witness before the world.
James writes . . .
- To explore how faith finds expression in the life of a believer.
- Out of a concern that faith produce fruit, so that no one confuses creeds with a vital Christianity.
- Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, when the church is still Jewish, and Old Testament truths are known by all.
Paul writes . . .
- To explain saving faith in relation to the work of Christ on Calvary.
- Out of a concern that faith be placed in Jesus alone, unmixed with any reliance on Law or on an individual’s supposed “works of righteousness.”
- When the church is primarily Gentile, and their inclusion has raised many theological issues never before explored.