I thought you might like to know that I have now uploaded all of the study of James into a book format at Lulu.com for you to download as a free resource for your bookshelf.
I’m no longer going to update this blog, and as a visitor I thought you might like the opportunity to get the whole study in one file.
You are free to use it and print it – you’ll also get the bits that weren’t so conducive to the blog format.
If you’re interested then click here for the direct link to Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/content/717710
Or click here for my blog (Red Letter Dad)- from which you can also access the book.
I hope you enjoy your studies and thankyou for your support,
2:8 – If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you do well;
2.8. If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you do well; – This verse refers here to the principles of the New Covenant rather than the writings of the Laws of Moses from the Old Testament.
Royal Law - Christ delivered a new law. It is a royal law because the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords decreed it. This law is binding for all those in His Kingdom all who dwell with Him. It was the Royal Law of Love.
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself” - James now quotes the law that summarized the second tablet of the Ten Commandments. Christ Himself quoted this command and the one that summarized the first tablet, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ in Matthew. In fact Christ stressed the importance of obeying these commands. These royal laws must be kept because, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets.”
It was a relational law that He was establishing. A law of love was to now abolish the old ceremonial law, yet use the same principles and commands of the Old Covenant.
James takes this new law of Christ’s and applies it to everyday situations. How can we love the Father if we fail to love the stranger? We show favour when we pass by the poor in the street, while on the way to entertaining our friends with fine food and hospitality. Our love for the Lord is demonstrated by our love for the poor, the lost and the hurting.
you do well; – The word ‘well’ here is translated in the Greek as kalos (Strong’s # 2573). Its explicit meaning tells us that it is simply ‘good.’ It is beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life. If we love our neighbour as ourselves then we are pleasing to God. However, James keeps writing and warns us about partiality. We have to do more than just love our neighbour, we have to do it without favouritism or comparison.
2:7. Do they not blaspheme the noble name by which you are called? – The noble name by which all Christians are called is that of Jesus Christ. See comments on 2:1.
The rich were the ones that took this name lightly. The Greek word for ‘blaspheme’ is blasphemeo (Strong’s #987). It is to speak evil of God or sacred things. The Bible speaks of dire consequences for those who take lightly the name of God.
Leviticus 24:16 – And he that blasphemes the Name of Jehovah shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall surely stone him. And the stranger as well, even as he that is born in the land; when he blasphemes the Name, he shall be put to death.
Rom 2:17 – 24 – Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest in the Law, and boast in God; and know His will and approve the things excelling, being instructed out of the Law; and persuading yourselves to be a guide of the blind, a light to those in darkness; an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, who have the form of knowledge and of the truth in the Law.
Therefore the one teaching another, do you not teach yourself? The one preaching not to steal, do you steal? The one saying not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? The one detesting idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in Law, do you dishonour God through breaking the Law?
For the name of God is blasphemed among the nations because of you, as it is written.
2:6. But you have dishonoured the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?
2:6. But you have dishonoured the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? - The church at that time was choosing to exalt the rich above the poor because of their wealth, clothing and social status. Though Christ had shown that it was the poor in heart who would be honoured in the coming Kingdom of God he also showed a new law that all should be equally accepted in Christ as heirs of the promise.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26 -29)
James is writing as a warning to the church about honouring the poor man. The rich at the time were the ones who were treating the poor with contempt. James is asking the church to wake up to those around them. It would be safely assumed that the rich people James is speaking and writing about in this and the last chapter gained their wealth through ungodly practices and exploited their positions. The church was so eager to please and honour the rich and place them in the high places yet these very people who were so esteemed, were the ones that were dragging these people into the judgment houses and law courts without regard to mercy and grace, the very essence of how God’s people should be treated.
2:5. and heirs of the kingdom, which He promised to those who love Him? – God’s kingdom is the reward and promise to those who love Him. No matter what social standing a person may have achieved in his earthly life or what riches he has accumulated, if his heart is not loving God then he has no promised inheritance.
heirs of the kingdom – No longer should a person, who is a Christian, be striving for earthly possessions and status. Instead they are to learn and take comfort in the fact that Christ has prepared for them a Kingdom that is everlasting and theirs by a holy salvation. This kingdom is one that comes by the way of the Cross. This kingdom embraces all creeds, languages and ages of this present world. It is filled with those who have humbled themselves before the Father, listened to the wooing of the Spirit and accepted Christ for themselves. They are truly the ones who are ‘rich in faith.’
2:5. Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith - Though somebody must sit ‘uppermost’ the fellows of the early church were basing a person’s honour on their wealth and position, rather than their actions and character. Once again James so gently points out that God does not favour a person because of their worldly wealth and riches or influence, but on the richness of faith found in the heart and how it is expressed in a person’s life.
2:4. have you not shown partiality among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? - From James’ writing we can assume that the treatment of the two classes sprung form motives of selfish thinking. Honouring the two classes should have been based on their actions and merit rather than personal appearance. The rich were invited (because they were rich) to sit in the comfortable seats toward the front of the assembly, while the poor (because they were poor) were told to sit on the floor at people’s feet!