We know Rahab had faith in God because her actions revealed her faith (see Joshua 2; 6:22–25; Heb. 11:31). She hid the two Israelite spies from her own government, then misdirected their pursuers and helped them escape. She thus saved her entire extended family and ended up in the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:5)!
In today’s reading, James presented Rahab as a second example of the fact that faith will have deeds that demonstrate it is living and genuine. In many ways, Rahab was Abraham’s opposite—a woman, a Gentile, and morally unrighteous. So this principle of faith-in-action is true for an honored patriarch, a foreign prostitute, and everyone in between!
Rahab verbalized her faith with clarity (Josh. 2:9–11). She believed God had rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, including the parting of the Red Sea. She believed He had given Israel the land. She believed He had given them victories over Sihon and Og. She went beyond fear to faith in a sovereign God who ruled over heaven and earth.
Rahab expressed her faith most clearly through her actions (v. 25). That’s why James compared faith and deeds to body and spirit (v. 26). The body is faith, absolutely real; but deeds are the spirit, what animates it and makes it into what we recognize as a person. This analogy likely alludes to God’s creation of Adam (Gen. 2:7).
Again, it’s important to note that it’s not salvation under discussion here. When the verb is translated “justified” (as in the ESV and CSB), it’s technically correct but confusing, because that English word now has a specific theological meaning. That’s why the NIV translates it “considered righteous” and the NLT “shown to be right with God.”
As you pray, please mention our Communications faculty: Karyn Hecht, Kelli Worrall, Matthew Moore, Robert Gustafson, and Rosalie de Rosset. Their prayer is that their students “would delight in their God-given gifts and use them for His glory.”