James 2:12
So speak you, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) So speak ye, and so do.—The writer has shown how unsuspected sins lead quickly to a violation of the Law, and in concluding this part of his Epistle he returns to the warning against an unguarded tongue, with which he commenced in chap 1:26.

The law of liberty.—The term is only found here and in James 1:25, and seems one of which James the Wise was peculiarly fond. What, however, did he precisely mean? Neither the ceremonial, nor the moral, most certainly; but the spiritual law of One greater than Moses. The idea, however, is in most of the New Testament writings, and particularly St. Paul’s. (Comp. John 8:32; Romans 8:21; 1Corinthians 10:29; 2Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 2:4; Galatians 5:1; Galatians 5:13; and 1Peter 2:16.)

James 2:12-13. So speak ye, and so do — In all things; as they that shall be judged — Without respect of persons; by the law of liberty — The gospel, (see on James 1:25,) the law of universal love, which alone is perfect freedom. For their transgression of this, both in word and deed, the wicked shall be condemned. And according to their works, done in obedience to this, the righteous will be rewarded. For he shall have judgment without mercy — In that day; who hath showed no mercy — To his poor brethren; and, or rather but, mercy — The mercy of God to believers, answering to that which they have shown, will then rejoice, or glory, over judgment.2:1-13 Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty - On the phrase, "the law of liberty," see the notes at James 1:25. Compare the notes at James 4:11. The meaning is, that in all our conduct we are to act under the constant impression of the truth that we are soon to be brought into judgment, and that the law by which we are to be judged is that by which it is contemplated that we shall be set free from the dominion of sin. In the rule which God has laid down in his word, called "the law of liberty," or the rule by which true freedom is to be secured, a system of religion is revealed by which it is designed that man shall be emancipated not only from one sin, but from all. Now, it is with reference to such a law that we are to be judged; that is, we shall not be able to plead on our trial that we were under a necessity of sinning, but we shall be judged under that law by which the arrangement was made that we might be free from sin. If we might be free from sin; if an arrangement was made by which we could have led holy lives, then it will be proper that we shall be judged and condemned if we are not righteous. The sense is, "In all your conduct, whatever you do or say, remember that you are to be judged, or that you are to give an impartial account; and remember also that the rule by which you are to be judged is that by which provision is made for being delivered from the dominion of sin, and brought into the freedom of the gospel." The argument here seems to be, that he who habitually feels that he is soon to be judged by a law under which it was contemplated that he might be, and should be, free from the bondage of sin, has one of the strongest of all inducements to lead a holy life. 12. Summing up of the previous reasonings.

speak—referring back to Jas 1:19, 26; the fuller discussion of the topic is given Jas 3:5-12.

judged by the law of liberty—(Jas 1:25); that is, the Gospel law of love, which is not a law of external constraint, but of internal, free, instinctive inclination. The law of liberty, through God's mercy, frees us from the curse of the law, that henceforth we should be free to love and obey willingly. If we will not in turn practice the law of love to our neighbor, that law of grace condemns us still more heavily than the old law, which spake nothing but wrath to him who offended in the least particular (Jas 2:13). Compare Mt 18:32-35; Joh 12:48; Re 6:16, "Wrath of the (merciful) Lamb."

So speak ye, and so do: the apostle concluding his discourse about respecting persons, which consisted both in their words and actions, be directs them how to govern themselves in both.

As they that shall be judged; viz. for both your words and actions, and that, not only in your own consciences at present, but at God’s tribunal hereafter.

By the law of liberty; the gospel, of the liberty of which it is one branch, that these differences among men, of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, circumcised and uncircumcised, &c., are taken away, Acts 10:28 Galatians 3:28 Colossians 3:11; against this law of liberty you sin if you respect persons, and then may well fear to be judged by it; as it takes away differences of persons now, so it will make none at last, but will be as impartial in its judgment as it is in its commands. So speak ye, and so do,.... Both words and actions should be taken care of; it becomes men to observe what they say, and what they do; for both sinful words and works are transgressions of the law, and will be brought to judgment; every idle word, as well as every evil work, both open and secret, men must give an account of in the day of judgment: wherefore it is incumbent on them so to behave,

as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty: See Gill on James 1:25 with which compare Romans 2:12. Heathens will be judged by the law of nature, Jews by the law of Moses, and those who live under the Gospel dispensation, according to the Gospel of Christ.

{7} So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

(7) The conclusion of the whole treatise: we are upon this condition delivered from the curse of the law by the mercy of God, that in the same way we should maintain and cherish charity and good will towards one another, and whoever does not do so, shall not taste of the grace of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jam 2:12. To what has hitherto been said the general exhortation is annexed: So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. A new section does not here begin, as Wetstein, Semler, and others assume; but with this and the following verse the course of thought commenced at Jam 2:1 is concluded; not until Jam 2:14 does the thought take a new turn. The connection with what has gone before is to be thus explained, that Jam 2:13 evidently points to the respect of persons with regard to the poor, and refers to chap. Jam 1:27.

οὕτως] “is not to be referred to what precedes, but to the following ὡς, thus: so as is necessary for those who,” etc.; thus in former editions. But by this explanation the thought is too abruptly introduced; therefore it would be more correct to refer οὕτως to what precedes (οὕτως, i.e. according to the rule stated in Jam 2:10 f., Brückner), and to take ὡς not as an explication, but as “a confirmation” (Lange).

James takes up not only the doing (ποιεῖτε), but also the speaking (λαλεῖτε), to which not only the conduct of his readers, specified in Jam 2:2 ff., but their sinful volubility of tongue generally led; see Jam 1:19, Jam 3:1-12. The repetition of οὕτω serves for the heightening of the thought; διά here is the same as in Romans 2:12; see also John 12:48; John 5:45 : correctly Wiesinger: “the law is a means because a measure;” incorrectly Kern: vi ac jure leges. The νόμος ἐλευθερίας is also here not the gospel, as the publication of the grace of God, or the Christian religion (Semler, Pott, Gebser), also not specially the νόμος βασιλικός mentioned in Jam 2:7 as a single command, but it is the same as is mentioned in chap. Jam 1:25.[129] The demand which James here expresses is that Christians as such, who shall be judged by the νόμος ἐλευθερίας, must regulate by it the whole course of their lives. From what has directly gone before, one might infer that James wishes particularly to warn against the pretext combated in Jam 2:10, but Jam 2:13 shows that he has rather in view the want of compassionate love, forming the heart and pulse of the νόμος ἐλευθερίας, which was renounced by his readers in their ἀτιμάζειν τὸν πτωχόν (Jam 2:6).

[129] Kern: “James, by the expression διὰ ν. ἐλ., reminds them that the νόμος for Christians is indeed according to form a new one, being converted into a willing impulse, but that it does not on this account cease, according to its nature, to be the rule of moral action, and thus also of judgment.”Jam 2:12. οὕτως λαλεῖτε καὶ οὕτως ποιεῖτε: When one thinks of the teaching of our Lord in such passages as Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:28, where sinful feelings and thoughts are reckoned as equally wicked with sinful words and acts, it is a little difficult to get away from the impression that in the verse before us the teaching is somewhat inadequate from the Christian, though not from the Jewish, point of view.—διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας: See above Jam 1:22; Jam 1:25, and cf. John 7:32-36.—μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι: cf. Jam 2:7-8, and especially Jam 2:9, ἰδοὺ ὁ κριτὴς πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν ἕστηκεν.12. So speak ye, and so do] The thoughts of the teacher dwell, as before (chap. James 1:26) and afterwards (chap. James 3:1-12), on sins of speech as no less tests of character than sins of act. In so doing he was echoing the words of a yet greater Teacher (Matthew 12:37).

the law of liberty] See note on ch. James 1:25. The recurrence of the phrase indicates a certain fondness for the thought which it expresses. As a phrase it is peculiar to St James, but the idea is found in John 8:32. Verbally it presents something like a contrast to St Paul’s language as to the law “which gendereth unto bondage” (Galatians 4:24), but the difference is on the surface only, St James speaking of the moral law when the will accepts it as the guide of life, St Paul of its work as reproving and condemning when the fleshly will resists it, and pre-eminently of its merely ritual and ceremonial precepts, the days and months and years of Galatians 4:10.Jam 2:12. Οὕτως λαλεῖτε, so speak ye) Be such in speech. In this summing up, he refers to ch. Jam 1:26.—διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας, by the law of liberty) See note at ch. Jam 1:25. The law abhors slavery, and therefore also the having respect to persons.Verses 12, 13. - Conclusion of the subject: νόμος ἐλευθερίας (cf. James 1:25). So

With reference to what follows, speak and do.

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