James 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
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Yes, Rahab was a harlot, but (as James is pointing out), although she was justified by her faith and not her works (as is the case even with Christians (Ephesians 2:8-9)), she gave witness to that faith through her actions by sheltering the Israelite spies. Similarly, Christians, despite their own sinfulness, are to give witness to their saving faith by their actions. (As James also pointed out in James 2:10, the person who commits one sin is as guilty, and as in need of salvation, as the one who violates all of God's commandments.)
The story of Rahab can be puzzling to some and her induction into the faith hall of fame (Heb 11) might surprise. The Bible text does not say that Rahab was actively engaged in prostitution at the time she is mentioned (Joshua 2). Bible commentators believe that the prostitution reference was related to Rahab’s past and not necessarily to her occupation. At the time of Rahab’s interaction with the spies, it appears that she was running an ancient form of Airbnb in addition to some textile manufacturing business. (Joshua 2:6). In Luke 7:36-48 we read how Jesus allowed a certain sinner to anoint His feet with a costly ointment. It appears that this woman, just like Rahab, also had a reputation, but that did not stop Jesus from interacting with her. We all have a past, a reputation, we all did things that we are not proud of, but in Jesus, we can find forgiveness of sins and acceptance. We shouldn't be sidetracked by what Rahab’s reputation was and rather focus on James’ point: “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works…. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” (James 2:22-25). In Matthew 1:3-6 Rahab is mentioned again, this time part of Jesus’ lineage as she went on to marry Salmon and give birth to Boaz. I believe that Rahab's story is included in the Bible as an indication that Jesus is not ashamed to have a woman with a questionable past in His earthly ancestry, and neither should we. Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 makes it quite clear that the unrepented sinner will not inherit the kingdom of God, and that all of us are (regardless of our past) justified and sanctified in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:11).
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