James 2:20
 
James 2:20
(KJV) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
(1611 KJV) But wilt thou knowe, O vaine man, that faith without workes is dead?
(1568 Bishop’s Bible) But wylt thou knowe, O thou vayne man, that that fayth which is without workes, is dead?
(1526 Tyndale) Wilt thou vnderstonde o thou vayne man that fayth with out dedes is deed?
 
Counterfeit Versions
(NIV) You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
(NASB) But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
(NLT) Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?
(ESV) Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
(CEV) Does some stupid person want proof that faith without deeds is useless?
(1901 ASV) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren?
(NLV) You foolish man! Do I have to prove to you that faith without doing things is of no use?
(HCSB) Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?
(NCV) You foolish person! Must you be shown that faith that does nothing is worth nothing?
(RSV) Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
(NAB-Roman Catholic) Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
(NWT-Jehovah’s Witnesses) But do you care to know, O empty man, that faith apart from works is inactive?
 
Textus Receptus - Traditional Text
qeleiV de gnwnai w anqrwpe kene oti h pistiV cwriV twn ergwn nekra estin
 
Hort-Westcott - Critical Text
qeleiV de gnwnai w anqrwpe kene oti h pistiV cwriV twn ergwn argh estin
 
Corrupted Manuscripts
This verse is corrupted in the following manuscripts:
B 03 - Vaticanus - Fourth century
C 04 - Ephraemi Rescriptus - Fifth century (original)
 
Manuscripts which agree with the Textus Receptus for this verse
Byzantine Text (450-1450 A.D.)
Aleph 01 - Sinaiticus - Nineteenth Century Counterfeit
A 02 - Alexandrinus - Fifth century
C 04 - Ephraemi Rescriptus - Fifth century (corrected)
K 018 - Ninth century
L 020 - Ninth century
P 025 - Ninth century
33 (Minuscule) - Ninth Century
 
Published Critical Greek Texts with Corruptions
Reads “useless” instead of “dead”
Lachmann, Karl - 1842
Tischendorf, Constantine - 1869
Tregelles, Samuel - 1857
Alford, Henry - 1849 revised in 1871
Westcott and Hort - 1881
Weiss, Bernhard - 1894
Nestle - 1927 as revised in seventeenth edition in 1941
Nestle-Aland - 1979 - Twenty Sixth Edition
Nestle-Aland - 1993 - Twenty Seventh Edition
United Bible Societies - 1983 - Fourth Edition
 
Affected Teaching
The word vain here is "Empty or Worthless." The word in the Greek for dead is "nekros." James is driving home the reality that a life of verbal faith is not evidence of salvation. Faith without works is like a light bulb that is off. If the light bulb is off in the dark, it does not light the way and is as lifeless as a bulb that is bad, but if that light bulb claims it is a light bulb and then lights the way, the light bulb has proven that it is a light bulb by being lit. A Christian proves they are a Christian by working for the Kingdom of God. The difference between true and false works is that false works are tied to this world and the glory of the doer. The true works are tied to the Kingdom of God and the glory of God.
 
The modern versions remove the word “nekros” which definitely means “dead” and replace it with “argê ” which severely lessens the reality of the verse. Faith without works is dead and something that is dead, is dead. “Argê ” means “inactive, idle, or lazy” and does not speak of being dead. Something which is inactive can be made active, something that is idle may be employed, and something which is lazy can be made to be industrious. However, something that is dead, is dead and lifeless. Once again the King James Bible brings the truth while the modern versions side step it.

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