James 2:10-11

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[a] also said, “You shall not murder.”[b] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

James 2:10 in Other Translations

KJV
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
ESV
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
NLT
10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
MSG
10 You can't pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God's law and ignoring others.
CSB
10 For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of [breaking it] all.

James 2:10-11 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JAMES 2

In this chapter the apostle dissuades from a respect of persons, on account of outward circumstances; shows that the law is to be fulfilled, and that mercy is to be exercised, as well as justice done; and exposes the folly of such who boast of faith without works: he dissuades the saints from all partiality to the rich and poor, from their relation to one another, as brethren, and from their common faith, of which Christ, the Lord of glory, is the object, Jas 2:1 supposes an instance of it, either in a court of judicature, or a religious assembly, Jas 2:2,3 and then makes an appeal unto them, and expostulates with them about it, Jas 2:4 and makes use of an argument against it, taken from the divine conduct, and an instance of his grace in the choice of persons to eternal life, Jas 2:5 a conduct very different from some persons here blamed, Jas 2:6, and other arguments follow, dissuading from a respect of persons, taken from the characters of rich men, as oppressors of the poor, litigious and quarrelsome with their neighbours, and blasphemers of the name of God, Jas 2:7 and from the law of God, which requires the love of the neighbour, and which to fulfil is to do well, Jas 2:8 and from the breach of it, by having respect to persons, whereby its penalty is incurred, Jas 2:9 for which a reason is given; because whoever offends in one point of the law, is guilty of the whole, Jas 2:10 as is a clear case, since the same lawgiver that forbids one sin, forbids another; so that he that is guilty of either of them is a transgressor of the law, Jas 2:11 wherefore it is right both to speak and act according to it, since men will be judged by it, Jas 2:12 and he will have no mercy shown him that has shown none to the poor, but merciful ones will escape damnation, Jas 2:13 and then the apostle argues from the unprofitableness of faith itself without works, Jas 2:14 and which he exemplifies in the case of a poor brother or sister who are wished well, but nothing given them; which good words, without deeds, are of no profit, Jas 2:15,16 so in like manner, faith without works is a dead faith, Jas 2:17 nor indeed can it be made out that a man has faith, if he has not works, Jas 2:18 at least such a faith as has justification and salvation connected with it; his faith, at most, is no better than that of the devils, who are damned, Jas 2:19 and that such a faith is a dead faith, Jas 2:2 and that true faith is attended with, and evidenced by works, the apostle proves by two instances; the one is that of Abraham, whose faith appeared to be genuine, and he to be a justified person, by the works he did; particularly by offering up his son Isaac; in which way his faith operated, and showed itself to be sincere and hearty; and the Scripture was fulfilled that Abraham was a believer; and had righteousness imputed to him, and was a friend of God, and a justified person, Jas 2:21-24 and the other instance is that of Rahab, whose faith was also shown by her works, and so a justified person, by receiving the spies with peace, and dismissing them with safety, Jas 2:25, and then the apostle explains what he means, by saying more than once, that faith without works is dead; which he illustrates by the simile of a man's body being dead, without the spirit or soul in it, Jas 2:26.

James 2:10-11 In-Context

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,
13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Cross References 4

  • 1. James 3:2
  • 2. Matthew 5:19; Galatians 3:10; Galatians 5:3
  • 3. Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18
  • 4. Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Exodus 20:14; Deut. 5:18
  • [b]. Exodus 20:13; Deut. 5:17
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