Sounds to me like James is expanding his statement of faith without works is dead. NOT that works save, but a non-responsive faith doesn’t either.
But, this is prime example of how someone will use this as proof that works are of necessity for salvation.
And others see things as you do....
And if you want to get technical.... what Grams is always quoting...
Ephesians 2:8-9King James Version (KJV)
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
And if you go onto VS 10
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
One certainty could make an argument that while we are not saved by works, we were created to do good works.