Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, January 27, 2006

James 2:14ff Series / Salvation in James Continued

NEW REFERENCES ADDED TO TEXT A.D. Riddle was kind enough to provide 4 more references than I was aware of along with the English equivalent chapter/verse allocations. Thanks A.D.!

It has been a while since I did a post on James 2:14ff. There has been some discussion of it by Evan May of VeritasRedux. I want to continue and see if we can come to some more revelations concerning the James passage that has blistered so many theologians.

In this post, I want to continue to lay the groundwork for a proper understanding of James 2:14ff which has to do with a salvation that faith alone is insufficient to enact. In post 3 of this series we saw conclusively that the writer, James, the Lord’s half-brother, plainly makes works a condition for the salvation he here is describing; and that the failure to admit this is the chief source of the problems supposedly arising from this passage for most evangelicals. Instead, we ought to start by admitting it. And we ought then to admit that James cannot be discussing salvation by grace! But instead of admitting these points, most interpreters dodge them. See here for the discussion (Post 3).

In my posts prior to this, I intimated what the salvation, which James talks about in 2:14ff, is. Since the salvation that he is talking about has works as a condition, we must absolutely rule out eternal salvation as an option, for that is by grace alone apart from works (Eph 2:8,9; Rom 4:4, 5; 11:6).

In Post 6 of this series (you can find links to all my James series posts on the sidebar of the main page of this blog) we saw how sin, when it is full grown causes physical death. Sin causes death!

In Post 5 we saw how James parallels the Proverbial wisdom in his epistle, where we see, most certainly and clearly, that righteousness extends the life, while sin and unrighteousness behavior is a prelude to physical death. James was a Jew well acquanted with the wisdom found in Proverbs, and his Epistle pays tribute to that knowledge with its practical admonition and temporal application.

In continuing our prelimenary considerations, building the groundwork for our exposition of James 2:14ff, we come to the place in James’ epistle where we are first met with the concept of “saving”. Remember from post 5:

It is the knee-jerk reaction of 21st century readers of the Bible to import into the word “salvation” (Greek = “soteria”) and its cognates the meaning “salvation from hell” each time he reads it in the New Testament. Yet the word merely means “deliverance”. It is up to the context to decide what kind of deliverance is being referred to.


In a word study of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) we find that the Greek word “soteria” and its cognate “sozo” (save) in their contexts, where they are found about 363 times, means “deliverance from temporal calamaties” – such as circumstances that cause death, enemies, troubles; both individually and nationally - in the greatest majority of the times they are found, upwards of 98% of occurences. Only a relatively few passages have spiritual contexts to the salvation being discussed. Yet even in the instances that the terms "save" and "salvation" carry a sense of spiritual salvation in these minimally few OT passages, there is no explicit instance where the term appears solely with a spiritual nuance. In a study Rene Lopez of Dallas Seminary did of each occurrence of the words, he could not find even one instance where the words in their contexts had a justification-salvation-only meaning.

What does this say about the Greek reader of the New Testament? That he obviously would not consider the meaning “salvation from hell” for the Greek words “soteria” and “sozo” (salvation and save, respecively) as the first, knee-jerk option when he read it.

Ok. Let us begin with James 1:21 as a prelimary consideration to our exposition on James 2:14ff:

James 1:21
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Notice “save your souls” in this verse. Before I get expositionally into this verse, I want to erect an argument in favor of my interpretation of “salvation” in James:

“Save a soul” never means “salvation from hell” in the Bible (any use of the Greek word “sozo” (save) with the Greek noun “psuche”). It remains for scholars of historical theology to discern how this phrase ever became connected with the idea of “deliverance from hell”. It is never used that way in the Bible, and such an idea would have been foreign to any Jewish reader of the New Testament.

This phrase is found in the LXX (The Greek translation of the Old Testament) and in each case the salvation in view is not from hell .
Here are just a few examples to show some context to what I have been saying:

Gen 19:17
So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said,"Escape for your life!”

In the Greek it is: “sodze tnv seautou psuchnv”: translated “Save(sozo) your own life (psuche).” This is an imperatival statement of the angels to Lot and his family to escape or they would physically perish.

Gen 32:30
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."

In the Greek it is: “esothn mou n psuche”: translated “my life (psuche) has been saved (sozo).” After wrestling with God, Jacob called the place of his pugilism with the Angel of the Lord (a theophany) Peniel (meaning face to face) for he had seen God face to face and yet he did not die.

1 Sam 19:11
Saul also sent messengers to David's house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David's wife, told him, saying, "If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed."

In the Greek it is: “swseis tnv psuchnv sou”: translated “save (sozo) your life (psuche).” Michal, David’s wife said he must flee or physically die in the morning, so she sent him out the window.

Ps 30:3
O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

In the Greek it is: “tnv psuchnv mou eswsns”: translated “my life(psuche) you have saved(sozo).” David is praising God for His delivarance of his life from death.

Judith 10:15 (with context):
11 Thus they went straight forth in the valley: and the first watch of the Assyrians met her, 12 And took her, and asked her, Of what people art thou? and whence comest thou? and whither goest thou? And she said, I am a woman of the Hebrews, and am fled from them: for they shall be given you to be consumed: 13 And I am coming before Holofernes the chief captain of your army, to declare words of truth; and I will shew him a way, whereby he shall go, and win all the hill country, without losing the body or life of any one of his men. 14 Now when the men heard her words, and beheld her countenance, they wondered greatly at her beauty, and said unto her, 15 Thou hast saved thy life, in that thou hast hasted to come down to the presence of our lord: now therefore come to his tent, and some of us shall conduct thee, until they have delivered thee to his hands.

In the Greek it is: “seswkas tnv psuchnv sou”: translated “you have saved (sozo) your life (psuche)”. Assyrian soldiers confronted Judith and because of her beauty and message they did not kill her, her message saved her life.

There are all together 15 references in the LXX (with apocrypha) that contain the “save a soul” type language using sozo (save) as the verb and psuche (soul/life) as the object. In each of these cases, deliverance from death is in view, not deliverance from hell:

Ge 19:17
Ge 32:31 (= Eng. v.30)
1 Ki 19:11 (= Eng. 1 Sa 19:11)
Amos 2:14-15 (2x)
Job 33:28
Ps 6:5 (= Eng. v.4)
Ps 30:8 (= Eng. 31:7)
Ps 71:13 (= Eng. 72:13)
Ps 85:2 (= Eng. 86:2)
Ps 108:31 (= Eng. 109:31)
Jer 31:6 (= Eng. 48:6)
Psalms of Solomon 17:17 (= Eng. v.19)
Judith 10:15
1 Macc 9:9

Moulton and Milligan in their “Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament” (pg 698) show that in the papyrii evidence (the profane literature) that this phrase “save a soul” continues to mean “save the physical life”. And they give examples on how psuche (soul) can mean physical life as well.

BAGD, the standard Greek lexicon gives the entries “of life on earth in its external, physical aspects” and “earthly life itself” for psuche (soul/life).

So we have seen much evidence here produced for our understanding of the “salvation” James talks about within his epistle. There is not a single place in the entire Greek Bible (the NT plus the Septuagint) where the phrase “save a soul” signifies deliverance from hell.

It is unfortunate that most interpreters of James are either unaware of this data or dismiss it as irrelevant. Whenever linguistical evidence of this type is ignored, faulty interpretation is almost inevitable.

And faulty interpretation is what usually happens. Evan Mays of VeritasRedux wrote this about my view yesterday:

The only one of these that even hints at referring to the type of salvation that Antonio is asserting is 5:15, but this is later clarified in v. 20. The first instance (1:21) refers to the Word, which is able to save your souls. Obviously, a soul cannot die a physical death and does not need physical salvation. (Emphasis his)
Well, the overwhelming linguistical evidence has proved this assertion wrong.

We will pick up our consideration of James 1:21 in our next installment.


Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Clever stuff. Keep it ocming, Antonio.

God Bless


January 27, 2006 11:59 AM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Hey your right on that Matthew.

Very clever

January 27, 2006 3:40 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

Very good stuff. I had a discussion about this aspect of the passage yesterday.

I read your post at Jodie's about the joint-blog effort, I think it's a wonderful idea!! Lets work it out!!

Keep up the great work!!



January 27, 2006 5:12 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

I just want to let you guys know that your excitement about the Lord encourages me.

In know you men are on a quest to know the truth,

Though I disagree on your exegesis of Scripture, I remind myself that there was a time when Martin Luther wanted to throw the book of James out of canon, so I understand why you guys are weary of it and why you guys view our stand as inhibiting your enjoyment of Christ.

Men, remember that one day affliction will come, but do not be discouraged and know that I have written to help encourage you for that day. You may not understand now, but you will then.

I love you guys.


January 27, 2006 6:00 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

It would be insane of me to think for even one moment that I could be saved by anything but grace as I know my filthy past.

But please know that I still hold fast to what I believe and love you guys.

January 27, 2006 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I find 15 total occurrences in the LXX, not 11. Nevertheless it seems to me that they still all support your thesis.

Ge 19:17
Ge 32:31 (= Eng. v.30)
1 Ki 19:11 (= Eng. 1 Sa 19:11)
Amos 2:14-15 (2x)
Job 33:28
Ps 6:5 (= Eng. v.4)
Ps 30:8 (= Eng. 31:7)
Ps 71:13 (= Eng. 72:13)
Ps 85:2 (= Eng. 86:2)
Ps 108:31 (= Eng. 109:31)
Jer 31:6 (= Eng. 48:6)
Psalms of Solomon 17:17 (= Eng. v.19)
Judith 10:15
1 Macc 9:9


January 27, 2006 8:13 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey A.D.,

How did you find my blog? From the chat board? How are things going? What Bible program are you using? Are you in School now? How's that going?

Thanks for leaving those references.


January 27, 2006 8:38 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey A.D. are you going to Western in Portland?


January 27, 2006 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I’m at TEDS, north of Chicago, halfway through my 4th semester. I have about 2-3 years to go. I’m working on a MDiv and plan to add a MA (Archaeology & ANE languages). I used Accordance to come up with the 15 LXX references.

I frequent a blog on archaeology & geography (http://blog.bibleplaces.com/). The author of that blog once linked to something by Jonathan Moorhead, and on Moorhead’s blog, I saw some comments that you made. That’s how I found your blog. I don’t have the time like I used to for internet things, but I’ll stop by every now and then and read your postings.

What are you up to? School, work? Drop me an e-mail some time.


January 28, 2006 9:11 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Hi A.D.~

I think I remember you from the Grace townsquare.

We should all pray for you a TEDS which Douglas Sweeney has said has moved to be more reformed over the years. He didnt mean it as a criticism, but I wonder if it is discouraging for a Free Gracer! But it's an excellent school in general I know.

Do you happen to know, is there any Free Grace stuff referring to Don Carson material? I know about Hodges article on him and Michael Horton (Neo-Puitanism) Doesn't he have some major work on all of Johns' writings?



January 28, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Totally excellent post!

“Save a soul” never means “salvation from hell” in the Bible (any use of the Greek word “sozo” (save) with the Greek noun “psuche”). It remains for scholars of historical theology to discern how this phrase ever became connected with the idea of “deliverance from hell”. It is never used that way in the Bible, and such an idea would have been foreign to any Jewish reader of the New Testament.

I agree that Evan May has not been dealing with this argument, and is so convinced of his inerpretation he is not getting it.

January 28, 2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I does explain why we get so confused over the "works" vs "grace" aspects of our salvation.

Thanks for a good post.

January 28, 2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

You in no way offend me so your apology is not needed.

I took you off my blogroll because I feel trying to explain the simple basics of salvation make it very hard for new believers.

All things however do work toward the good of God.

I am not out here to see how many blogrolls I can get on. As a matter of fact if I am not on someone's blogroll I feel it is for good reasons.

The Lord has His purpose in all things allowed or caused.

I hope I didn't offend with taking you off my roll.

In Christ

January 29, 2006 7:54 AM  
Blogger ambiance-five said...

I have put you back on my roll...simply because you asked about it.

Love to you.

January 29, 2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Hey I kinda like the way you think Ambiance. I think I'll chech out your site.

Just glad I'm not the only one confusing people out here:-)

Hey, we are all a work in progress. I am just going to stick to the gospel Paul preached from here on out. That is to repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.


You make such a good point Ambiance as when I grew up this message was so mingled back and forth as men and women dissected truths becoming lopsided in their beliefs and confusing others as well as myself.

January 29, 2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks again Antonio. I've found word definition to be the greatest obstacle to overcome in most discussion. Distinguishing between the gift of eternal life and divine deliverance in its many forms is critical to a correct understanding IMO.

January 29, 2006 9:24 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I think it is a great post and I appreciate the way you are challenging traditionalist thought with your examinations!
Keep it up!

January 30, 2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


Thank you for your support, you don't know how encouraging you are. If I didn't think that anyone read my posts or got anything out of them I would stop, and if I stopped, i wouldn't have such an impetus to study.

Thank you all for your indirect ways of helping me study!


January 30, 2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Does a what motivate you or a Who?

January 30, 2006 3:40 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


do yo always have to be so negative toward me?

I love you as a Christian brother, but you seem to not even wish to show me love.

Grace and peace to your family, Brian. I pray that the Lord richly bless your family with health, safety, and intimacy with Christ.


January 30, 2006 4:06 PM  

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