Ephesians 2:8,9 says that we are saved by grace and not by works, but James 2:24 says we are justified by faith and works.
please explain.

Hi Bob,

Thank you so much for this great question.  It appears that there is a contradiction in scripture here.... so let us consider how we are to handle this:

1.  God is perfect and His word is perfect, therefore there is no contradiction.  Any contradiction we may see is because we have misunderstood one or both of the passages involved... because God's word is perfect.

2.  Since James 2 seems to fly in the face of all of Paul's teachings, we either must conclude that James is not supposed to be a Bible book, that all of Paul's writings are corrupt, or that we are missing something in the interpretation.

3.  Let us look at the context of James 2.  In the earlier part of the chapter, James makes the case that in order for the law to save you, you need to keep every commandment perfectly... which is impossible.

James 2:1011 (AV)
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

4.  Now James starts to address the subject of proving that one really does have faith.

James 2:1418 (AV)
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

The context is showing faith to man.  God can see the heart, where true faith takes place.... but man cannot.  If a man claims to have faith... the only way to see that this faith is real is to see the EVIDENCE of faith which is works.  One cannot show another man that he has faith without having works that accompany it.  True faith will produce the EVIDENCE of its existence in works.  Now here is the key.  James 2 is speaking about the demonstration of faith.  Works accompany true faith... but they are evidence not a prerequisite.

Hebrews 11:1 (AV)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

So then, if you are trusting in works to get to Heaven.... you do not have faith in Jesus... but if you have true faith in Jesus, you will be made into a new creature and works will follow as a demonstration of this supernatural rebirth.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (AV)
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The word Justified means "declared to be righteous"  In the context of James 2 since we are talking about men evaluating men, it will be works (the evidence of faith) that will declare a man to be righteous in the sight of men... it is faith that will declare a man to be righteous in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (AV)
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I hope that this helps you.

In Christ
Pastor Don


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Pastor Don Carpenter


I am an expert in the Bible. I can answer any question concerning beliefs that are based upon the presupposition that the Bible is the Word of God. I have been a volunteer on this site since 2003. I wish to add this category in order to help those who believe the Bible, but have not chosen a denomination.


I have been in the ministry for 25 years. During this time I served as youth pastor, assistant pastor, counselor, and Senior Pastor. Currently I serve as a Senior Pastor for an independent fundamental Baptist Church in New England. I am also a professor teaching night College at New England School of the Bible.

Evangelical Baptist Church New England School of the Bible

BS in Bible and Pastoral ministries from Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit PA. Church Planter - 4 years Senior Pastor of Evangelical Baptist Church in Torrington CT - 10 years Professor at New England School of the Bible - 5 years Local Cable TV talk show host - 4 years.

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