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Verse

James 2:25

ESV And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
NIV In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
NASB In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works also when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
CSB In the same way, wasn't Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route?
NLT Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
KJV Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

What does James 2:25 mean?

James is wrapping up his case that genuine faith in God naturally results in a believer participating in good works. After showing how Abraham's saving faith caused him to act, James cites one more example from the Old Testament: Rahab the prostitute.

Rahab's story is told in Joshua chapter 2. She was a citizen of Jericho who had heard the stories of Israel's mighty God and believed them: "The Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" (Joshua 2:11). So when Israel's spies showed up to prepare for the battle against Jericho, Rahab hid them and helped them escape. Because of her actions, God spared Rahab and her family from the destruction to follow.

It's important not to read something into the Bible which the author does not actually say. James point is not that Rahab's salvation was accomplished by what she did. The entire context of his discussion has been knowing what kind of faith it is that actually saves. Rahab's actions revealed that her faith in Israel's God was more than simply opinion: it was trusting, genuine faith. It's one thing to claim belief (James 2:14), or to have knowledge (James 2:19), but Rahab demonstrated that she had real saving faith—she "was justified," as James is using the term here—by courageously trusting the God of Israelites. This trust led inevitably to her good deeds. This is in perfect harmony with other New Testament passages such as Hebrews 11:31: "By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies."

Genuine faith in God and good works always go together. Works do not save, but they naturally flow from a legitimate relationship with Christ.
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