What Is the 'Royal Law' Mentioned in James 2:8?

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety. 

The royal law seems to be a way of talking about God’s law for his people, but the emphasis is that this is a kingdom law. It is royal, it is a law of the king. So in context, James is saying this royal law (You shall love your neighbor as yourself) is critical to the life of a Christian also the health of a church.

So, we have these two great commandments. What are the two great commandments, they ask Jesus, and he says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” So James is saying that rather than living selfish lives, in the church in particular and showing partiality to some people because perhaps they have more influence or wealth, he says instead we should show love and kindness to everyone equally, indiscriminately the body.

So, he is saying this isn’t as suggestion that you stop showing partiality, this is a law from your king. The royal law is to love your neighbor as yourself. 

Loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible. Not once. Not twice. Eight times. Loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to God that He not only repeats Himself, He makes it a command. And not just one in a list of many commands. Jesus coupled the command to love your neighbor as yourself with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

James calls it the royal law. It sounds beautiful, and it is when we obey it.

But loving your neighbor as yourself isn’t always easy. That’s why God made it a command. He knew we’d struggle. Making it a commandment is actually to our benefit. How is that? We have to do it on purpose, be intentional about it. Sometimes even out of our need. 

To read more from this excerpt, see What Does it Mean to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Yurii Kifor 


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