Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
James in this section of scripture uses Abraham, who is the father of the nation of Israel as an example of faith. In addition, he also uses Rahab and her works of faith. Remember Rahab was the harlot who obeyed God and hid the spies as they entered the Promised Land. Rahab became the mother of Boaz who married Ruth. Ruth was the mother of Obed, who was the grandfather of King David. And the implications of these examples are twofold. One is their obedience to God was greatly used and in return produced good works. And secondly, true faith produces obedience to God, which is required for good works to happen. James does this to illustrate the point that works pleasing to God is the product of faith working hand in hand with obedience. And James correctly asserts that faith and works are intricately tied together and therefore inseparably. You cannot have true faith and not have a heart changed by God. And you cannot have a heart changed by God and not have positive behaviors as a result and evidence of that change.
This in turn gives support to his original point that faith without works is dead and incapable of saving anyone. In James example, we must remember that Abraham’s offering up of Isaac demonstrated the genuineness of his faith thereby proving his justification before God. The discussion of this chapter goes hand in hand with James discussion in chapter one. Which is this, just as true faith is proven by believers remaining steadfast through trials. Likewise, true faith is evidenced by the works it produces in the life of the believer and not the other way around. We should therefore understand that works in themselves would never produce the faith needed to withstand spiritual warfare. Good works cannot help us to become a living sacrifice to the Lord, nor give us the strength to lay down our lives for the Gospel’s sake. And this is summed up in James’ statement about being made perfect. The Greek word used is “telioo” which means to accomplish or complete something. To bring something to full maturity. It was used in reference to fruit trees and how to know when they matured and developed the ability to bear fruit. Likewise the Christian’s life is not mature until it has the ability of faith to produce works pleasing to God.