1 Joshua son of Nun sent two spies out from Shittim secretly and instructed them: “Find out what you can about the land, especially Jericho.” They stopped at the house of a prostitute named Rahab and spent the night there. 2 The king of Jericho received this report: “Note well! Israelite men have come here tonight to spy on the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent this order to Rahab: “Turn over the men who came to you—the ones who came to your house—for they have come to spy on the whole land!” 4 But the woman hid the two men and replied, “Yes, these men were clients of mine, but I didn’t know where they came from. 5 When it was time to shut the city gate for the night, the men left. I don’t know where they were heading. Chase after them quickly, for you have time to catch them!”
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Notes and References
"... It is not clear that James returns to direct confrontation with the interlocutor. Still, we can infer that moving from his first example, Abraham, to a second, Rahab, indicates the interlocutor is at least in the corner of his eye. His intent is to demonstrate the inseparability of faith and works and to deconstruct the arguments of those who think one can have faith and not have works (deeds of mercy). The perfection of Abraham's faith in the Aqedah now gives way to the active faith of Rahab. This shorter example then is followed by a summary conclusion (2:26). 'Likewise' ties what James has to say about Rahab to what he has said about Abraham as a second proof that faith and works are inseparable. The Canaanite prostitute Rahab, whose story of hospitality is told in Joshua 2 and whose reward is described in Joshua 6:16-25, creates problems for modern interpreters and historians while she resolves a faith-works relationship for James (Among the problems include why the two spies took up space at a prostitute's home; Joshua 2:1, 4, her prostitution being mentioned without repentance, her lying; 2:5-6, how she knew of the God of Israel; 2:9-11, and the complicity of the spies in deceit; 2:14. On the other hand, there are some dramatic resemblances of Rahab to the midwives of Egypt, not the least of which are the word 'hid'; Joshua 2:4; compare Exodus 2:2 and the marking of a home with red to protect the home and its inhabitants from destruction) ..."
McKnight, Scot The Letter of James (p. 256) William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011