James 2:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 2:8, NIV: If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right.

James 2:8, ESV: If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

James 2:8, KJV: If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

James 2:8, NASB: If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,' you are doing well.

James 2:8, NLT: Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

James 2:8, CSB: Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.

What does James 2:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verses, James made the case that favoritism to the rich over the poor is doubly foolish. First, it is a sin because it ignores the equality of all men, and the reality of our true destiny in heaven. It shows a lack of faith in the God who provides. Second, it's ridiculous to discriminate against the poor and favor the rich when it's the rich who are causing their oppression. Clearly, the rich of James's culture aren't interested in giving Christians a fair shake.

Now, in verses 8 and 9, James takes his argument to another level. He references the famous love command found in the Old Testament Law and in the teachings of Jesus (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). Favoritism, James claims, violates this clear and crucial mandate from God.

In the context of James's teaching here, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves means treating our neighbor as we would want to be treated. More specifically, we will treat our poor Christian brothers and sisters with the same honor and respect we would give to any rich man or woman who might show up at our gatherings.

James writes that believers are doing well when we really (or genuinely, authentically) fulfill that royal law. What makes it a "royal" law? Either James means that it is part of the "king" of all the commands in the Old Testament law, as Jesus said it was (Matthew 22:36–40), or he calls it royal because it was endorsed by Jesus, who is the King of Kings. In either case, this command is the only thing that should guide the honor we show to every person, no matter their status in the larger community.