James 2:8

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 1"You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.

James 2:8 Meaning and Commentary

James 2:8

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 13:8-10 ) ( Galatians 5:14 ) 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, (Mybydn) , signifies "princes", and to be willing. The Jews frequently ascribe royalty to the law, and often speak of (hrwt rtk) , "the crown of the law" F23; 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 F24: 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.


F23 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 Deut. xxxiv. 5.
F24 Vid. Targum. Jon. & Jerus. in Exod. xxxii. 25. & xxxiii. 4.

James 2:8 In-Context

6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Cited from Leviticus 19:18
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.