The English language can be complex and confusing, especially when a word is spelled the same but has entirely different meanings. For example, dove: can mean a type of bird or a way of swimming into the water. Minute: can refer to time or something very tiny. Tear: can refer to crying or something torn. So, when the Bible refers to works, I believe we see different meanings for the same word.
James says, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead," James 2:17, but Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "for by grace you have been saved through faith… not a result of works." How do we reconcile the two seemingly opposing views? One word, fruit. Paul is talking about working to keep the law of Moses, and James refers to the natural result of faith in God, which is a fruit of the Spirit. According to James, the examples he uses to prove that point: "works" are the "fruit" or result of faith. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?" James 2:21 "Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way." James 2:25 What may have seemed like a biblical contradiction is confirmed to be words with different meanings.