Timothy Kauffman on James 2, justification, works
Please read the whole article. Kauffman does a great job of demonstrating the whole book of James and it's relationship to the parable of the soils that Jesus told in the synoptic gospels. (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8)
These 2 paragraphs are especially good, as he points out that dikaow (δικαοω, to justify), can have different meanings according to context. Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:35, Romans 3:4, and 1 Timothy 3:16 mean "to vindicate", "to prove", "to demonstrate to be true", "to prove right", "to show". This is what James 2:14-26 means, " a man is proved to be justified by faith, by works" or "a man demonstrates he is justified by faith, by works. (James 2:21, 2:24)
"We emphasize this connection between and , first because this is so plainly, explicitly and emphatically James’ emphasis in the epistle; and second because there is in biblical parlance a “justification” that has nothing to do with the ground of a man’s acquittal in a legal sense, but has to do with consistency between what a person says and what he does. In this sense, a man is justified when is found . Paul used it in this sense when he wrote that God will be shown to be faithful to His promise: “That Thou mightest be justified in thy sayings” (Romans 3:4). Jesus used it in this sense when He said “Wisdom is justified of her children” in response to His critics (Matthew 11:18-19; c.f. Luke 7:33-35). When Jesus was “justified in the Spirit” (1 Timothy 3:16), it means that His claims were proven true."
"This is not the justification Paul speaks of when he says we are “justified by faith” or “justified by His blood” or “justified by Christ” (Romans 5:1,9; Galatians 2:17). Rather, it is a justification that occurs when a man claims to be religious, and his works show that he truly is. It is a justification that occurs when a man says he has wisdom, and the fruits show that he is truly wise. It is the justification that occurs when a man says he has faith, and he loves his neighbor, showing that his profession of faith is genuine. James could as well teach—and we know it is true—that a man is not proven to be wise by saying he has wisdom, and a man is not proven to be religious by saying he is religious. Nor is a man proven to believe by saying he has faith. He is justified “in his sayings” when there are fruits to show for wisdom, when fruits show that he is truly religious, and when a profession of faith is proven through trial. That this is James’ use of justification is evident from the two examples he gives from Scripture—Abraham and Rahab. In both cases, faith was tested and proven. " Timothy Kauffman