James & Paul cite the same Old Testament story in their arguments about faith & works.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:21-23)
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. (Galatians 3:6)
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:11)
Note that they've both referenced Genesis 15:6:
And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
In using this story, James is making an argument for the importance of works, whereas Paul is arguing against the efficacy of the works of the law.
I'm not asking if this is a contradiction, that's been covered elsewhere, and I grant the possibility of a difference between "works" and "works of the law".
But I find it curious that they were both in attendance at the Jerusalem conference (see Acts 15:1-29) where the works of the law were discussed in detail, and they've appealed to the same example to support distinct arguments. It seems too good to be a coincidence.
- Is it likely that one is responding to the other? Or...is it likely that one is responding to how people have misinterpreted the other? Who is responding to whom?
- Does this exchange reflect the mounting tension before the Jerusalem conference, or is it more likely to be a result of the conference?
P.S. an interesting article on the subject here that contributed to my question in the first place--didn't want to throw the responses by putting this in the initial question