New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:16 not justified by the works. Some have argued that James contradicts Paul at this point, saying that Abraham and Rahab, for example, were “justified by works” (James 2:21,25). They were not justified by the “works of the law,” however. Abraham lived before God gave the Mosaic law, and Rahab lived in a culture that had not heard of it. As a matter of fact, they were justified by faith in the eyes of God (note James 2:23; Hebrews 11:31) and justified by works in the eyes of men (see James 2:18). There is no contradiction, for genuine saving faith is inevitably demonstrated before men by “works of righteousness” (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-10). In any case, Paul makes it clear to the Galatians, and to us, that no one can ever be justified by keeping the law; James himself makes it plain that no one can keep the law fully (James 2:10).
2:16 justified. The word “justified” means “made righteous” or “recognized as righteous.” The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer by faith (Romans 4:5; James 2:23).
2:16 no flesh be justified. Paul used these same words in writing to the Romans (Romans 3:20).
2:20 crucified with Christ. Here is the great secret of a Christ-honoring Christian life. As Paul wrote to the Romans: “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).
2:20 liveth in me. Christ lives in us by His Spirit (John 14:16-17,23). Since He is continually present in and with the believer, He knows all we say and do, hears our prayers and will guide our steps as we follow His will.
2:20 faith of the Son of God. This is not the faith which we exercise in Christ, but His faith, which He lives out through us as we appropriate His life in us (compare Ephesians 2:9).