This has easily been one of the most controversial verses in all of church history, and even blood of hundreds (thousands?) of Christians was spilt between the two camps which interpreted this verse in their ways. Many Protestant martyrs were tortured because the Roman Catholics enforced their interpretation of justification by violence. But the question is, were the Protestants teaching Catholic doctrine (as in much else), and, were the Roman Catholics the ones enunciating a potentially heretical teaching, despite their violence. Let's go into this a bit. The text says, James 2:24, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" On the surface its meaning seems straightforward: works can be a contributing factor to a Christian's justification, namely his ability to be righteous in God's sight. This obviously goes against the entire corpus of the epistles of St. Paul which teach over and over again that "we are made righteous by faith, not by works", that "Abraham was faithful and it was imputed to him as righteousness, without any works". Interpreting the Pauline epistles only, a 'justification by faith' seems perfectly straightforward. And there are countless passages from the Church Fathers which seem to deploy justification in this Reformational (ie. catholic) way. There is not a single Church Father that says we may merit justification by a work. So without the verse in the epistle of James, the doctrine of Justification by Faith would seem to be secure. Then we bring in this one verse, and the entire doctrine could potentially unravel, not only internally, but even in its historical consequence, seemingly acquitting Roman Catholics of their doctrine of 'justification by works' and throwing doubt on one of the core causes of the Reformation. Did the Reformers have a response? Yes, basically this: in the epistles of Paul, 'justification' means 'man being right with God', whereas in the epistle of James, it means 'man being right with men' (ie., "Henry was sick and therefore justified in taking the day off from work"). The question is, is that 2nd understanding of Justification valid? The Roman Catholics would affirm no, denying that 'justification' had another meaning, and would insist that James 2:24 is prima facie evidence of Justification by Works. == The Church Fathers == As Anglicans we of course understand that our teachers are not Aquinas or Calvin, but Augustine and Cyril. So I have been long curious: how did the Fathers understand James 2:24, since the New Testament was written in their own native language. Therefore, I present you all with my top finding for the day, my coup-de-grace, which should lay the question of James 2:24 entirely to bed. Feast your eyes on this: Michael Lofton (a conservative RC) held this roundtable on the question of Justification. His Eastern Orthodox guest made a powerful and grudging admission that the Reformers interpreted James 2:24 correctly, against the Roman church and the Orthodox: https://youtu.be/SdFdYkxbJQY (min40) -"In the ancient church, this verse [James 2:24] actually wasn't seen as contradicting Paul. We have to remember that the underlying Greek word has TWO meanings: one is 'to acquit', yes. But the second, is, 'to vindicate'. To show visibly one's justification, to justify in front of someone else. When you read the Commentary of James 2 by Cyril of Alexandria, he explicitly parses that term, saying, 'This is not when Abraham was justified, but when he was SHOWN to be justified.' The modern RCs and Orthodox are guilty of not reading Scripture according to the Fathers! The fathers did NOT read James 2 in that fashion. Also, First Clement actually parses James 2 in a few different chapters (which also shows it was considered canonical in the 1st century). And Clement ALSO has this reading of the greek."