James 2:8 MEANING

James 2:8
(8) If ye fulfil the royal law.--Better paraphrased thus, If, however, ye are fulfilling the Law, as ye imagine and profess ye are doing, the royal law, according to the Scripture, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye are doing well; but . . . . Mark the touch of irony in the defence which St. James puts into the mouths of his hearers. It were certainly a sweet proof of neighbourly affection, that exemplified in James 2:3. The "royal," or "kingly law," is, of course, God's, in its highest utterance; and may be taken as an illustration of what a law really consists: viz., a command from a superior, a duty from an inferior, and a sanction or vindication of its authority. There is much confusion of thought, both scientific and theological, with regard to this; were it not so we should hear less of the "laws of nature," and divers other imaginary codes which the greatest legist of modern times has called "fustian." The sovereign law of love, thus expressed by the Apostle, is one so plain that the simplest mind may be made its interpreter; and the violation of it is at once clear to the offender.

Verse 8 - What is the connection with the foregoing? Μέντοι is ignored altogether by the A.V. Translate, with R.V., howbeit if ye fulfill, etc.; Vulgate, tamen. According to Huther, St. James here meets the attempt which his readers might, perhaps, make to justify their conduct towards the rich with the law of love; whilst he grants to them that the fulfillment of that law is something excellent, he designates προσωποληπτεῖν directly as a transgression of the law. Alford thinks that the apostle is simply guarding his own argument from misconstruction - a view which is simpler and perhaps more natural. The royal law. Why is the law of love thus styled? (The Syriac has simply "the law of God.")

(1) As being the most excellent of all laws; as we might call it the sovereign principle of our conduct (cf. Plato 'Min.,' p. 317, c, Τὸ ὀρθὸν νόμος ἐστὶ βασιλικός). Such an expression is natural enough in a Greek writer; but it is strange in a Jew like St. James (in the LXX. βασιλικός is always used in its literal meaning); and as the "kingdom" has been spoken of just before (ver. 5), it is better

(2) to take the expression as literal here - "the law of the kingdom" (cf. Plumptre, in loc.). Thou shalt love, etc. (Leviticus 19:18). The law had received the sanction of the King himself (Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:26-28).

2:1-13 Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.If ye fulfil the royal law,.... Which is the law of love to men, without distinction of rich and poor, high and low, bond and free; and is so called, because it is the law of the King of kings; hence the Syriac version renders it, "the law of God", it is the law of Christ, who is King of saints; and because it is a principal law, the chief of laws; as love to God is the sum of the first and great commandment in the law, and may be called the king of laws; so love to the neighbour is the second and next unto it, and may very well bear the name of the queen of laws, and so has royalty in it; and indeed this last is said to be the fulfilling of the law, Romans 13:8 and it is also submitted to, and obeyed by such who are made kings and priests to God; and that in a royal manner, with a princely spirit, willingly, and with all readiness: the same word, in the Hebrew language, signifies "princes", and to be willing. The Jews frequently ascribe royalty to the law, and often speak of , "the crown of the law" (w); and they suppose the Israelites had crowns upon their heads, when the law was given them on Mount Sinai, in which were engraven the name of God, and which they were stripped of when they made the golden calf (x): now this royal law is fulfilled, when it is regarded without respect of persons,

according to the Scripture, in Leviticus 19:18

thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself; and which is to be understood of every nation, without distinction of Jews and Gentiles, and of persons of every state and condition, rich and poor, without any difference: and when this law is so observed, it is commendable:

ye do well: that which is right, and which is a man's duty to do; this, when done from right principles, and to a right end, is a good work, and is doing a good work well.

(w) Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 13. & Abot R. Nathan, c. 41. T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 28. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 4. fol. 183. 2. & sect. 14. fol. 215. 2. & Midrash Kohelet, fol. 73. 4. Targum Jon in Deuteronomy 34.5. (x) Vid. Targum. Jon. & Jerus. in Exodus 32.25. & xxxiii. 4.

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