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.
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(11) For he that said . . .—All men have favourite vices and indulgences; and most

“Compound for sins they have a mind to

By damning those they’re not inclined to;”

forgetful that the same Lawgiver has laid His restrictions upon every sort and kind. Not that we can believe all sins are the same in their deadening effect upon the soul, or, further, in their punishment. The point which St. James urges is that sin, as sin, involves the curse of the law; and that “respect of persons,” with its unloving and unlovely results, must bring its deceived possessor into condemnation before God. Just as our Lord referred the Sixth and Seventh Commandments (Matthew 5:21-32) to the first issues of the angry or lustful heart, and by no means confined them as did the Rabbinical teachers to the very act, so now in like manner the Apostle takes his stand upon the guiltiness of any breach whatever of the Law. Love is its complete fulfilment, we are well informed (Romans 13:10), but in that startling briefness lies comprehended all the decalogue, with its utmost ramifications; and men of the world would find a rule of the most minute and rigid ceremony easier to be followed than this simple all-embracing one. “The fulfilling of the Law” is very different from the substitution of a single plain command for a difficult code; this would seem to be the mistake of many, noisily asserting their freedom from the older obligations, who do not so evidently live under the mild bondage of the new.

A curious question may be raised upon the inverted order of the Sixth and Seventh Commandments in this passage, as well as in Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9. (Not so however, observe, in the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:21-27.) Professor Plumptre says they are thus placed because “standing first in the second table, the Fifth being classed by most Jewish writers as belonging to the first,” and “there was, probably, a traditional order of the Tenth, varying from that at present found in the Hebrew Pentateuch.” The Greek version, known as the Septuagint, supports this theory, placing “Thou shalt not commit adultery” in James 2:13 of Exodus 20, and “Thou shalt not kill” in James 2:15.

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.For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill - That is, these are parts of the same law of God, and one is as obligatory as the other. If, therefore, you violate either of these precepts, you transgress the law of God as such, and must be held to be guilty of violating it as a whole. The penalty of the law will be incurred, whatever precept you violate. 11. He is One who gave the whole law; therefore, they who violate His will in one point, violate it all [Bengel]. The law and its Author alike have a complete unity.

adultery … kill—selected as being the most glaring cases of violation of duty towards one's neighbor.

All proof of what he laid down in the former verse, by instancing in these two commands, there being the same reason of all the rest, the same sovereignty and righteousness of God appearing in them, and it being the will of God to try our obedience in one as well as another.

Thou art become a transgressor of the law; viz. by contemning the authority and holiness of God, which appears in the whole law, and every command of it.

For he that said, Do not commit adultery,.... That same lawgiver, who is but one, and is God, that gave out the seventh command, and forbids adultery,

said also, Do not kill; delivered the sixth command, which forbids murder.

Now if thou commit no adultery; do not break the seventh command;

yet if thou kill, break the sixth command,

thou art become a transgressor of the law; not of that particular precept of the law, the seventh command, for the contrary is supposed before, but of the sixth only; and yet by so doing, a man becomes a violator of the whole law; for the law is but one, though it consists of various precepts; and the breach of one precept, as well as of another, is the breach of the law: and besides, there is but one lawgiver, who has enjoined one command, as well as another, and whose legislative power and authority is despised and trampled upon by the violation of one command, as of another. This is the apostle's argument, and way of reasoning, proving the above assertion, that he that breaks the law in one particular instance, is guilty of the breach of the whole law.

{6} 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.

(6) A proof: because the Lawmaker is always one and the same, and the contents of the law cannot be divided.

Jam 2:11. The truth of the above thought is founded on the fact that all commandments proceed from one lawgiver.

ὁ γὰρ εἰπών· μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, εἶπεν καί· μὴ φονεύσῃς] Baumgarten finds the reason why James adduces these two commandments, μὴ μοιχεύσῃς and μὴ φονεύσῃς, in this, because “the transgression of these two was punished with death;” Wiesinger, on the other hand, because μοιχεύειν was never laid to the charge of the readers, whereas μὴ φονεύσῃς had the command of love as its essence;” and Lange, because “to the Israelite the prohibition of adultery was likewise the prohibition of apostasy to heathenism, and the prohibition of murder was likewise that of uncharitableness towards our neighbour.” But the reason is rather because these two commandments are the first of those which refer to our duties to our neighbour (thus Brückner). That μὴ μοιχεύσῃς precedes the other has its reason in ancient tradition: see on both points Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9 (see Meyer in loc.); Philo, de decal. xii. 24, 32. With the words that follow: εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύεις κ.τ.λ., James draws the inference from the preceding. The negative οὐ after εἰ with the indicative is not surprising in the N. T. usage, the less so as here only a part of the conditional sentence is denied; see Winer, p. 423 ff. [E. T. 601]; Al. Buttmann, p. 296 ff. [E. T. 346 f.[127]]. With the apodosis γέγονας παραβάτης νόμου James refers to Jam 2:9; consequently not ἔνοχος, as in Jam 2:10, but παραβάτης is put.

The reason of the judgment here expressed is contained in ὁ εἰπώνεἶπε καί. Since the law is the expression of the will of Him who gave it, the transgression of a single portion is disobedience to the one will, and consequently a transgression of the whole law. Bengel: unus est, qui totam legem tulit; cujus voluntatem qui una in re violant, totam violant. James might indeed have confirmed the idea by the internal connection of all commands, and by pointing out that the transgression of one commandment reveals a want which makes the fulfilment of the other commandments impossible;[128] but as he does not do so, these considerations are not to be arbitrarily introduced into his words.

[127] According to Buttmann, the negative οὐ here, even according to classic usage, is the more necessary, “when to the negative predicate another, still in the protasis, is immediately so appended with an adversative particle that the entire emphasis falls upon this second part” [E. T. 346]. It is indeed said in Thuc. i. 32: εἰ μὴ μετἀ κακίας, δόξης δὲ μᾶλλον ἁμαρτίᾳἐναντία τολμῶμεν; but here the relation is different, as the contrast δόξης κ.τ.λ. could be left out without injury to the thought, which is evidently not the case with James.

[128] Augustine, in his Epistle to Jerome on this passage (Opera Hieronym., Francf. iv. p. 154 ff.), says: Unde fiet omnium reus, si in uno offendat, qui totam legem servaverit? An forte quia plenitudo legis charitas est, qua Deus proximusque diligitur, in quibus praeceptis charitatis tota lex pendet et prophetae, merito fit reus omnium, qui contra illam fecit, in qua pendent omnia? Nemo autem peccat, nisi adversus illam faciendo.—Ticinus thus well expresses the unity of the law: lex tota est quasi una vestis, quae tota violatur, si vel unam ex ea partem demus; quasi harmonia, quae tota corrumpitur, si vel unica vox dissonet; and Gataker: quasi catena aurea, quae tota rupta est, si unicum nexum abrumpas. What Gunkel says is indeed correct: “The solidarity consists in this, that God has given with the equal obligation the one as well as the other commandment;” but the point of equal obligation is not here brought forward by James.

Jam 2:11. μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, etc.: for the order of the seventh commandment preceding the sixth, cf. the Septuagint (Exodus 20:13-14), and Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9. With this mention of adultery and murder together should be compared §§ 9, 10 of the Apoc. of Peter; in the former section the punishment of adulterers is described, in the latter that of murderers, while in § 11 mention is made of the children who were the victims of murder. Possibly it is nothing more than a coincidence, but the fact is worth drawing attention to that in the Apoc. of Peter (or, more strictly, in the extant remains of this) the punishment is described only of those who had been guilty of evil speaking (blasphemy), adultery, murder, and the wealthy who had not had pity upon widows and orphans. These are the sins upon which special stress is laid in our Epistle; other sins receive only incidental mention.

11. For he that said, Do not commit adultery …] The two commandments are chosen as standing first in the Second Table, the fifth being classed by most Jewish writers as belonging to the First, just as in Greek and Roman ethics, duty to parents came under the head of Εὐσεβεία and Pietas, rather than under that of Justice (comp. 1 Timothy 5:4). This division is recognised by Josephus (Ant. iii. 6. § 6) and Philo (De Decal. i.), and falls in better than the common one with the pentad and duad grouping that pervades the Law. It is singular that in all New Testament quotations from the Second Table “Thou shalt not commit adultery” precedes “Thou shalt not kill,” Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9; and the order is made the subject of direct comment by Philo (De Decal. xii. 24). It may be inferred from this that there was, probably, a traditional order varying from that at present found in the Hebrew Pentateuch.

Jam 2:11. Ὁ γὰρ εἰπὼν, for He who said) It is one and the same Being who gave the whole law; and they who violate His will in one point, violate it altogether.

Verse 11. - Do not commit adultery... do not kill. The order of the commandments is remarkable; what is now the seventh is placed bolero the sixth. This appears to have been the usual order at that time. In this order our Lord quotes them in Luke 18:20, and St. Paul in Romans 13:9. Philo also has the same order, and expressly comments on it, drawing from it an argument for the heinousness of adultery ('Dec.,' 12:24). In the Vatican Manuscript of the LXX. in Exodus 20:13-15 the order is, "Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill." But the Alexandrian Manuscript has the usual order, which is also found in Matthew 19:18 and Mark 10:19 (according to the correct reading). James 2:11A transgressor (παραβάτης)

From παρά, beyond, and βαίνω, to go. A transgressor, therefore, is one who goes beyond the line. So, also, trespass, which is transpass, from the Latin trans, across, and passus, a step. A similar word occurs in Homer, ὑπερβασία, a transgression or trespass, from ὑπέρ, over, and βαίνω, to go.

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