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James 2:8 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Howbeit if ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— If indeed ye keep [the] royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— If ye are, indeed, fulfilling, a royal law, according to the scripture—Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, nobly, are ye doing;
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— If, indeed, royal law ye complete, according to the Writing, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,'—ye do well;
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— If then you fulfil the royal law, according to the scriptures: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; you do well.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— If ye fulfil the royall Law, according to the Scripture, Thou shalt loue thy neighbour as thy selfe, ye doe well.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— And if the law of Aloha in this you accomplish, as it is written, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, you do well;
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— And if in this ye fulfill the law of God, as it is written, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye will do well:

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
If 1487
{1487} Prime
εἰ
ei
{i}
A primary particle of conditionality; if, whether, that, etc.
y3305
[3305] Standard
μέντοι
mentoi
{men'-toy}
From G3303 and G5104; indeed though, that is, however.
ye x3305
(3305) Complement
μέντοι
mentoi
{men'-toy}
From G3303 and G5104; indeed though, that is, however.
fulfil 5055
{5055} Prime
τελέω
teleo
{tel-eh'-o}
From G5056; to end, that is, complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt).
z5719
<5719> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 3019
the royal 937
{0937} Prime
βασιλικός
basilikos
{bas-il-ee-kos'}
From G0935; regal (in relation), that is, (literally) belonging to (or befitting) the sovereign (as land, dress, or a courtier), or (figuratively) preeminent.
law 3551
{3551} Prime
νόμος
nomos
{nom'-os}
From a primary word νέμω [[nemo]] (to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), generally (regulation), specifically (of Moses [including the volume]; also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle).
according x2596
(2596) Complement
κατά
kata
{kat-ah'}
A primary particle; (preposition) down (in place or time), in varied relations (according to the case [genitive, dative or accusative] with which it is joined).
to y2596
[2596] Standard
κατά
kata
{kat-ah'}
A primary particle; (preposition) down (in place or time), in varied relations (according to the case [genitive, dative or accusative] with which it is joined).
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
scripture, 1124
{1124} Prime
γραφή
graphe
{graf-ay'}
From G1125; a document, that is, holy Writ (or its contents or a statement in it).
Thou shalt love 25
{0025} Prime
ἀγαπάω
agapao
{ag-ap-ah'-o}
Perhaps from ἄγαν [[agan]] (much; or compare [H5689]); to love (in a social or moral sense).
z5692
<5692> Grammar
Tense - Future (See G5776)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 814
thy 4675
{4675} Prime
σοῦ
sou
{soo}
Genitive case of G4771; of thee, thy.
neighbour 4139
{4139} Prime
πλησίον
plesion
{play-see'-on}
Neuter of a derivative of πέλας [[pelas]] (near); (adverb) close by; as noun, a neighbor, that is, fellow (as man, countryman, Christian or friend).
as 5613
{5613} Prime
ὡς
hos
{hoce}
Probably adverb of comparative from G3739; which how, that is, in that manner (very variously used as shown).
thyself, 4572
{4572} Prime
σεαυτοῦ
seautou
{seh-ow-too'}
The genitive case from G4571 and G0846, with the dative and accusative of the same with contractions, respectively, of (with, to) thyself.
ye do 4160
{4160} Prime
ποιέω
poieo
{poy-eh'-o}
Apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary; to make or do (in a very wide application, more or less direct).
z5719
<5719> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 3019
well: 2573
{2573} Prime
καλῶς
kalos
{kal-oce'}
Adverb from G2570; well (usually morally).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

James 2:8

_ _ The Greek may be translated, “If, however, ye fulfill,” etc., that is, as Alford, after Estius, explains, “Still I do not say, hate the rich (for their oppressions) and drive them from your assemblies; if you choose to observe the royal law ... well and good; but respect of persons is a breach of that law.” I think the translation is, “If in very deed (or ‘indeed on the one hand’) ye fulfill the royal law ... ye do well, but if (on the other hand) ye respect persons, ye practice sin.” The Jewish Christians boasted of, and rested in, the “law” (Acts 15:1; Acts 21:18-24; Romans 2:17; Galatians 2:12). To this the “indeed” alludes. “(Ye rest in the law): If indeed (then) ye fulfill it, ye do well; but if,” etc.

_ _ royal — the law that is king of all laws, being the sum and essence of the ten commandments. The great King, God, is love; His law is the royal law of love, and that law, like Himself, reigns supreme. He “is no respecter of persons”; therefore to respect persons is at variance with Him and His royal law, which is at once a law of love and of liberty (James 2:12). The law is the “whole”; “the (particular) Scripture” (Leviticus 19:18) quoted is a part. To break a part is to break the whole (James 2:10).

_ _ ye do well — being “blessed in your deed” (“doing,” Margin) as a doer, not a forgetful hearer of the law (James 1:25).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

James 2:8-13

_ _ The apostle, having condemned the sin of those who had an undue respect of persons, and having urged what was sufficient to convict them of the greatness of this evil, now proceeds to show how the matter may be mended; it is the work of a gospel ministry, not only to reprove and warn, but to teach and direct. Colossians 1:28, Warning every man, and teaching every man. And here,

_ _ I. We have the law that is to guide us in all our regards to men set down in general. If you fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, you do well, James 2:8. Lest any should think James had been pleading for the poor so as to throw contempt on the rich, he now lets them know that he did not design to encourage improper conduct towards any; they must not hate nor be rude to the rich, any more than despise the poor; but as the scripture teaches us to love all our neighbours, be they rich or poor, as ourselves, so, in our having a steady regard to this rule, we shall do well. Observe hence, 1. The rule for Christians to walk by is settled in the scriptures: If according to the scriptures, etc. It is not great men, nor worldly wealth, nor corrupt practices among professors themselves, that must guide us, but the scriptures of truth. 2. The scripture gives us this as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves; it is what still remains in full force, and is rather carried higher and further by Christ than made less important to us. 3. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings. Its own worth and dignity deserve it should be thus honoured; and the state in which all Christians now are, as it is a state of liberty, and not of bondage or oppression, makes this law, by which they are to regulate all their actions to one another, a royal law. 4. A pretence of observing this royal law, when it is interpreted with partiality, will not excuse men in any unjust proceedings. In is implied here that some were ready to flatter rich men, and be partial to them, because, if they were in the like circumstances, they should expect such regards to themselves; or they might plead that to show a distinguished respect to those whom God in his providence had distinguished by their rank and degree in the world was but doing right; therefore the apostle allows that, so far as they were concerned to observe the duties of the second table, they did well in giving honour to whom honour was due; but this fair pretence would not cover their sin in that undue respect of persons which they stood chargeable with; for,

_ _ II. This general law is to be considered together with a particular law: “If you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors, James 2:9. Notwithstanding the law of laws, to love your neighbour as yourselves, and to show that respect to them which you would be apt to look for yourselves if in their circumstances, yet this will not excuse your distributing either the favours or the censures of the church according to men's outward condition; but here you must look to a particular law, which God, who gave the other, has given you together with it, and by this you will stand fully convicted of the sin I have charged you with.” This law is in Leviticus 19:15, Thou shalt do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor nor the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt though judge thy neighbour. Yea, the very royal law itself, rightly explained, would serve to convict them, because it teaches them to put themselves as much in the places of the poor as in those of the rich, and so to act equitably towards one as well as the other. Hence he proceeds,

_ _ III. To show the extent of the law, and how far obedience must be paid to it. They must fulfil the royal law, have a regard to one part as well as another, otherwise it would not stand them in stead, when they pretended to urge it as a reason for any particular actions: For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all, James 2:10. This may be considered, 1. With reference to the case James has been upon: Do you plead for your respect to the rich, because you are to love your neighbour as yourselves? Why then show also an equitable and due regard to the poor, because you are to love your neighbour as yourself: or else your offending in one point will spoil your pretence of observing that law at all. Whosoever shall keep the whole law, if he offend in one point, wilfully, avowedly, and with continuance, and so as to think he shall be excused in some matters because of his obedience in others, he is guilty of all; that is, he incurs the same penalty, and is liable to the same punishment, by the sentence of the law, as if he had broken it in other points as well as that he stands chargeable with. Not that all sins are equal, but that all carry the same contempt of the authority of the Lawgiver, and so bind over to such punishment as is threatened on the breach of that law. This shows us what a vanity it is to think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, and plainly puts us upon looking for some other atonement. 2. This is further illustrated by putting a case different from that before mentioned (James 2:11): For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet, if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. One, perhaps, is very severe in the case of adultery, or what tends to such pollutions of the flesh; but less ready to condemn murder, or what tends to ruin the health, break the hearts, and destroy the lives, of others: another has a prodigious dread of murder, but has more easy thoughts of adultery; whereas one who looks at the authority of the Lawgiver more than the matter of the command will see the same reason for condemning the one as the other. Obedience is then acceptable when all is done with an eye to the will of God; and disobedience is to be condemned, in whatever instance it be, as it is a contempt of the authority of God; and, for that reason, if we offend in one point, we contemn the authority of him who gave the whole law, and so far are guilty of all. Thus, if you look to the law of the old, you stand condemned; for cursed is every that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them, Galatians 3:10.

_ _ IV. James directs Christians to govern and conduct themselves more especially by the law of Christ. So speak and so do as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty, James 2:12. This will teach us, not only to be just and impartial, but very compassionate and merciful to the poor; and it will set us perfectly free from all sordid and undue regards to the rich. Observe here, 1. The gospel is called a law. It has all the requisites of a law: precepts with rewards and punishments annexed; it prescribes duty, as well as administers comfort; and Christ is a king to rule us as well as a prophet to teach us, and a priest to sacrifice and intercede for us. We are under the law to Christ. 2. It is a law of liberty, and one that we have no reason to complain of as a yoke or burden; for the service of God, according to the gospel, is perfect freedom; it sets us at liberty from all slavish regards, either to the persons or the things of this world. 3. We must all be judged by this law of liberty. Men's eternal condition will be determined according to the gospel; this is the book that will be opened, when we shall stand before the judgment-seat; there will be no relief to those whom the gospel condemns, nor will any accusation lie against those whom the gospel justifies. 4. It concerns us therefore so to speak and act now as become those who must shortly be judged by this law of liberty; that is, that we come up to gospel terms, that we make conscience of gospel duties, that e be of a gospel temper, and that our conversation be a gospel conversation, because by this rule we must be judged. 5. The consideration of our being judged by the gospel should engage us more especially to be merciful in our regards to the poor (James 2:13): For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shown no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. Take notice here, (1.) The doom which will be passed upon impenitent sinners at last will be judgment without mercy; there will be no mixtures or allays in the cup of wrath and of trembling, the dregs of which they must drink. (2.) Such as show no mercy now shall find no mercy in the great day. But we may note, on the other hand, (3.) That there will be such as shall become instances of the triumph of mercy, in whom mercy rejoices against judgment: all the children of men, in the last day, will be either vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy. It concerns all to consider among which they shall be found; and let us remember that blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

James 2:8

If ye fulfil the royal law — The supreme law of the great King which is love; and that to every man, poor as well as rich, ye do well. Leviticus 19:18.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

James 2:8

(4) If ye fulfil the (f) royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

(4) The conclusion: charity which God prescribes cannot agree with the respecting of people, seeing that we must walk in the king's highway.

(f) The law is said to be royal and like the king's highway, in that it is simple and without changes, and that the law calls everyone our neighbour without respect, whom we may help by any kind of duty.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
the royal:

James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Thou:

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.
Leviticus 19:34 [But] the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I [am] the LORD your God.
Matthew 22:39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mark 12:31-33 And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. ... And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love [his] neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Luke 10:27-37 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. ... And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Romans 13:8-9 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. ... For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

ye do:

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
1 Kings 8:18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
2 Kings 7:9 Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day [is] a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.
Jonah 4:4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
Jonah 4:9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, [even] unto death.
Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Matthew 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Philippians 4:14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
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Lv 19:18, 34. 1K 8:18. 2K 7:9. Jna 4:4, 9. Mt 22:39; 25:21, 23. Mk 12:31. Lk 10:27. Ro 13:8. Ga 5:14; 6:2. Php 4:14. 1Th 4:9. Jm 1:25; 2:12, 19. 1P 2:9.

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