James 2:17: Faith and Works, Part 4

Verse 17:[1] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (Gr. by itself[2]).

[It is dead in itself, καθ᾽ ἑαυτήν] In accordance with itself (Estius). By itself (Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, Grotius), or, however great the whole is. Thus ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ, of itself, in John 15:4[3] (Grotius); or, being alone (the Syriac in Estius, Erasmus, Vatablus). Taken solitarily (Menochius), separated from works (Estius), or, without charity (Menochius). There is an allusion to the body, which is dead, if it be alone, that is, deserted by the soul (Estius). Καθ᾽ ἑαυτήν here πλεονάζει, is pleonastic,[4] as is ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτὸν, against himself, in Matthew 12:26; ἐν ἑαυτῷ, in himself, in Matthew 13:21; ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ, of itself, in John 15:4; ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, between themselves, in Romans 1:24; and many similar examples here and there. And so in verses 20 and 26, in the place of it is dead of itself, it is simply said it is dead (Grotius). It is dead in a certain way and does not perform good works, which are a sign of spiritual life; just as motion in an animal shows that it lives (Menochius). Just as that faith of yours, conjoined with good words, does not profit your neighbors, so neither shall it profit you. God will measure to you by your small measure. Anything that is not active, or that does not achieve its effect, is said to be dead, as it is seen in Romans 4:19; 7:8; Hebrews 11:12. The effect, unto which Faith tends, is eternal life; but thus it in the end achieves its effect, if there be present Purification from vices, Love, and the works of Love (Grotius).

Even so faith; that which they boasted of, and called faith. Is dead; void of that life, in which the very essence of faith consists, and which always discovers itself in vital actings and good fruits, where it is not hindered by some forcible impediment; in allusion to a corpse, which plainly appears to have no vital principle in it, all vital operations being ceased. It resembles a man’s body, and is called so, but in reality is not so, but a dead carcass. Being alone; margin, by itself, or in itself; be it what it will, it is but dead: or, as we render it, being alone, i.e. not in conjunction with works, which always it should be.

[1] Greek:  οὕτω καὶ ἡ πίστις, ἐὰν μὴ ἔργα ἔχῃ, νεκρά ἐστι καθ᾽ ἑαυτήν.

[2] Greek:  καθ᾽ ἑαυτήν.

[3] John 15:4:  “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself (ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ), except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”

[4] That is, more words than are necessary are used to express the sense.

James 2:16: Faith and Works, Part 3

Verse 16:[1] And (1 John 3:18) one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

[But one of you say] Who trust in faith to suffice for salvation (Grotius). If ye insincerely address him for show (Menochius).

[Go in peace, etc.] The same expression is used in 1 Samuel 1:17; Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; 8:48 (Grotius). That is to say, May it be well to you (Grotius, Estius), May God help you, and provide clothing and food (Estius). For it belongs to one praying Well, that the Imperative mood show whereby this is carried out. Peace signifies prosperous affairs. Good wishes and all from him that is not able to furnish more are to be praised, but not likewise from others (Grotius).

Depart in peace; a usual form of salutation, wherein, under the name of peace, they wished all prosperity and happiness to them they greeted, Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; 8:48.

[Be ye warmed (or, grow warm [Beza, Piscator], that is, be ye clothed [Grotius, thus Menochius], that ye might be warmed [Menochius]: Metonymy, which sort is found in Job 31:20 [Grotius]) and be ye filled] That is to say, drive away hunger (Menochius), be well fed; may ye have whence ye may be filled. See Matthew 14:20;[2] 15:33,[3] 37;[4] etc. (Grotius). Take these separately: for the former pertains to the naked, and the latter pertains to those that need food (Drusius).

Be ye warmed; i.e. be ye clothed; the warmth here mentioned being such as is procured by clothes, Job 31:20. And be ye filled, or, satisfied with food; a metaphor from the fatting of cattle with grass or hay. The same word is used, Matthew 14:20; Mark 6:42;[5] Philippians 4:12.[6] These two good wishes answer the two former great wants.

[But ye do not give (that is, while ye have an abundance of that property: See 2 Corinthians 8:13 [Grotius]) to them what things, etc., τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος] Thus he calls what things are useful for the body. For among the Greeks that Adjective governs sometimes the Genitive, sometimes the Dative. Xenophon used ἐπιτήδεια πορίζεσθαι and ἔχειν, to furnish and to have the necessities,[7] and ἐνδείαν ἐπιτηδείων, a want of necessities.[8] In the Glossa, ἐπιτήδεια τὰ ἀναγκαῖα, the necessities (Grotius). What things are necessary (or, suitable, or convenient [Pagnine, Beza, Piscator]) for the body (Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, thus Montanus, Tremellius, Arabic, etc.).   That is, those things, with which denied, nature is afflicted, clothing and food. See 1 Timothy 6:8 (Grotius).

Notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; understand, when yet ye are able to relieve them; for he speaks to the rich, or such as were in a capacity of being helpful to others.

[What will it profit?] How do these good wishes profit? either, 1. them (Grotius), namely, the needy (Estius). Such a purpose had not the effect which it ought: it vanished away (Grotius). Or rather, 2. those thus speaking (Gomar, Piscator); which is more agreeable both to the scope of the passage, and to the answering clause, and to what has gone before (Gomar, similarly Piscator). For, just as that false charity is of no profit to him that has it, so false faith is of no profit to him that has it (Piscator).

What doth it profit? Either, what do your good words and charitable wishes profit them, without charitable deeds? Or, what do they profit yourselves? Or both may be included: as your fair speeches convey no real good to them, so they bring in no reward to you from God.

[1] Greek:  εἴπῃ δέ τις αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὑμῶν, Ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε, μὴ δῶτε δὲ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος, τί τὸ ὄφελος;

[2] Matthew 14:20:  “And they did all eat, and were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν):  and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.”

[3] Matthew 15:33:  “And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill (χορτάσαι) so great a multitude?”

[4] Matthew 15:37:  “And they did all eat, and were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν):  and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.”

[5] Mark 6:42:  “And they did all eat, and were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν).”

[6] Philippians 4:12:  “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:  every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry (χορτάζεσθαι), both to abound and to suffer need.”

[7] For example, Ways and Means 4; Anabasis 1:3.

[8] Hellenica 2:2:2.

James 2:15: Faith and Works, Part 2

Verse 15:[1] (see Job 31:19, 20; Luke 3:11) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food…

[If…a brother or sister (that is, a Christian man, or a Christian woman [Piscator, thus Estius, Menochius], as in 1 Corinthians 7:12, 15 [Gataker]) be naked] Either, simply, as in Mark 14:51, 52; or, poorly clothed, as in John 21:7; 2 Corinthians 11:27 (Gataker). The word γυμνοῦ/naked is here taken as in Job 22:6;[2] Matthew 25:36;[3] etc. See also Romans 8:35; 1 Corinthians 4:11. He illustrates the matter with a striking similitude taken from their deeds, which he opposes (Grotius). He shows the matter by an example taken from the present matter. For he treats of works of mercy (Estius). Thus the comparison holds here; Just as good words so not profit the needy, so faith without works does not profit the believer. There is also a demonstration of equity in it. He was unwilling to profit another; it is just that he not profit himself. Hunger and nakedness κατὰ συνεκδοχὴν, by synecdoche, denotes all calamities, etc. (Grotius).

[And, etc., καὶ λειπόμενοι ὦσι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς] See James 1:4, 5.[4] If they be not only destitute of an ordinary supply of goods, but have not whence they might live for the day. Ἐφήμερος τροφὴ, daily food, or τροφὴ καθ᾽ ἡμέραν, food proportioned to the day, as the Comic Poets, Alexis[5] and Antiphanes,[6] have said; daily sustenance is not a heap of goods, but a daily measure. Those that have nothing more are called καθημεροβιοὶ, those living day to day, by the Greeks. See what things are on Matthew 6:14. In the place of καὶ/and in a manuscript is ἢ/or (Grotius).

If a brother or sister; a Christian man or woman, who are frequently thus called: see 1 Corinthians 7:12, 15. Be naked; badly clothed, or destitute of such clothing as is fit for them, Job 22:6; 1 Corinthians 4:11. And destitute of daily food: see Matthew 6:11; that which is necessary for the sustaining of life a day to an end. Under these two of nakedness and hunger, he comprehends all the calamities of human life, which may be relieved by the help of others; as food and raiment contain all the ordinary supports and comforts of life, Genesis 28:20; Matthew 6:25; 1 Timothy 6:8.

[1] Greek:  ἐὰν δὲ ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ γυμνοὶ ὑπάρχωσι καὶ λειπόμενοι ὦσι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς,

[2] Job 22:6:  “For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked (γυμνῶν, in the Septuagint) of their clothing.”

[3] Matthew 25:36:  “Naked (γυμνός), and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

[4] James 1:4, 5:  “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι).  If any of you lack wisdom (λείπεται σοφίας), let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

[5] Alexis (c. 375-c. 275 BC) was a prominent and prolific Greek Poet of the Middle Attic period.

[6] Antiphanes (c. 408-334 BC) was perhaps the most important Middle Attic, Greek Poet.

James 2:14: Faith and Works, Part 1

Verse 14:[1] (Matt. 7:26; Jam. 1:23) What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

[What, etc., τί τὸ ὄφελος] As in 1 Corinthians 15:32.[2] Thus Matthew 16:26;[3] Romans 2:1[4] (Gataker). [Thus the connection:] He transitions here to a fuller commendation of works of mercy (Estius, similarly Calvin), teaching that without them faith profits nothing in the judgment of God (Estius). He had said that God is going to be a severe judge toward the unmerciful (Calvin). Hypocrites were gathering that faith is sufficient for us. Does he here respond to them, etc. (Calvin, similarly Gomar)? Greatly encouraging beneficent works toward the neighbor, he shows the necessity of such works from the danger of not obtaining salvation without them. [Now] since the Apostles everywhere proclaimed the great efficacy of Faith, thence it happened that many carnal men, among whom was Simon Magus,[5] grasped at that as a defence for a sinful life, as if eternal salvation were able to be obtained without righteous works, namely, through faith; while, on the other hand, the doctrine of the Apostles was, that Faith is suited to cleanse us, that the Holy Spirit is given to those cleansed, and that thus Faith becomes active through Love, Galatians 5:6, and that hence Love, which rises out of the Faith and Hope attending it, prevails above both Faith and Hope, 1 Corinthians 13:13 (Grotius). What advantage (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, etc.). Namely, to justification (James Cappel, thus Estius), or, unto eternal salvation (Grotius, thus Estius, James Cappel), as in 1 Corinthians 15:32. In the place of which is οὐδέν εἰμι, I am nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:2 (Grotius).

What doth it profit; viz. as to his eternal salvation? Wherein are the ends of religion promoted by it? The apostle had just before declared, that they who are unmerciful to men shall find God severe to themselves, and have judgment without mercy: but hypocritical professors boasted of their faith as sufficient to secure them against that judgment, though they neglected the practice of holiness and righteousness. Hence he seems to take occasion for the following discourse, to beat down their vain boasting of an empty, unfruitful faith, and possibly, lest they should abuse or misunderstand what he had said about the law of liberty, as if that inferred a licence of sinning, and living as they pleased.

[If a man say that he hath faith, but have not works (that is, good works [Piscator, James Cappel, Gataker, Estius]: Which sort of Ellipsis is found in James 2:17, 18, 20; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:18 [Gataker])] If a man say, not with his mouth, but in his mind (Cameron[6]); or, from his heart, as a similar expression was recently taken in James 1:13, that is, if a man think within himself. Indeed, my works are not just, but faith is just, and therefore I am not in danger of losing salvation. This opinion formerly was very common among the Jews, who were supposing that every Israelite that had not cast off the profession of Judaism in the end is going to have a part in the next world, that is, in eternal life. Augustine shows that the same opinion had grown among many Christians, and he rebukes them sharply, as certainly he ought. This opinion has been revived in this unhappy age, even under the name of a reformed doctrine, which all that love the piety of salvation of their neighbors ought to oppose. Now, Faith in this place does not signify the entirety of Christian piety μετωνυμικῶς/metonymically, or συνεκδοχικῶς/synecdochically, through change of name or summary, as in Romans 10:10; Titus 1:1, but an assent yielded to the truth revealed by God, as it is distinguished from Repentance, Mark 1:15; and likewise from Love, 1 Corinthians 13:2; Galatians 5:6; etc.; and from Purity, Acts 15:9, and a good Conscience, 1 Timothy 1:19: which sort of assent is able to be without a profession, and hence without pious works also, from which it is distinguished here, as also in Titus 3:8, as we teach, John 12:42. Neither is this strange, since that which the Spartans said of the Athenians often holds good, They know what is right, but are unwilling to do it[7] (Grotius). Others: Lest he should appear to dispute concerning words, a false show of faith James here calls faith by way of concession (Beza, similarly Calvin), a false show of faith, namely, a merely acquaintance with God and the Gospel (Beza). Ἡ πίστις, faith, [as it here follows] does not denote just any sort of faith, but that which he afterwards calls dead. For the article has the force of a demonstrative Pronoun (Vorstius). There is also Emphasis here on the language of saying (Vorstius, Piscator). He does not say, if a man hath faith, but, if a man say he hath faith (Piscator, Gataker), both, because faith is not able to be true and living without works, without the study and practice of holiness; and, because many profess faith that have neither works, nor any faith at all (Gataker). Therefore, he understands those indeed to boast of, yet not to have, faith (Vorstius, similarly Piscator).

Though a man say; whether boastingly with his mouth to others, or flatteringly in his heart to himself. The apostle doth not say, that a man’s having faith simply is unprofitable, but either that faith he pretends to without works, or his boasting he hath faith, when the contrary is evident by his not having works. He hath faith; such as he pretends to be good, and sound, and saving, but is really empty and dead, verse 26, and unfruitful. And have not works; i.e. good works, such as are not only acts of charity, to which the papists would restrain it, but all the fruits of righteousness and holiness proceeding from faith, and appearing both in heart and life.

[Is faith able to save (or, to remove [the Arabic in Grotius], to vivify [the Syriac in Grotius], and by consequence to justify before God: as he subsequently speaks of the matter [Piscator]) him!] That is to say, it will not be able, because it is unfruitful (Estius). This interrogation most vehemently denies. Now, that σῶσαι, to save, as commonly in the New Testament is to conduct someone unto eternal life. He concedes that some such faith is able to be; but he denies that eternal salvation belongs to it. Indeed, now and then, holy men say that some are saved by faith before works: Chrysostom, Tertullian, Augustine [see Grotius]: but they understand that faith which includes a purpose to obey God, and a sincere love of God and neighbor. Now, such faith, which death immediately follows, is said to be without works, not as were wanting pious thoughts, often also some pious words or deeds; but because it did not bring forth a trail and continuous series of good works and conspicuous deeds, for life, the time, and the occasion did not allow for them. But no faith was profitable to anyone without such work as time was permitting, as it appears by the example of that man crucified with Christ[8] (Grotius). [See Salvian, Cyprian, etc., and their words in Grotius.]

Can faith save him? the interrogation is a vehement negation; q.d. It cannot save him, viz. such a faith as a man may have (as well as boast he hath) without works. This James calls faith only by way of concession for the present, though it be but equivocally called faith, and no more really so, than the carcass of a man is a man.

[1] Greek:  τί τὸ ὄφελος, ἀδελφοί μου, ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν, ἔργα δὲ μὴ ἔχῃ; μὴ δύναται ἡ πίστις σῶσαι αὐτόν;

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:32a:  “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me (τί μοι τὸ ὄφελος), if the dead rise not?”

[3] Matthew 16:26a:  “For what is a man profited (τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖται ἄνθρωπος), if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

[4] Romans 2:1 appears to be an error.  Romans 2:25 may be intended:  “For circumcision verily profiteth (ὠφελεῖ), if thou keep the law:  but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.”

[5] Acts 8:9-24.

[6] John Cameron (1580-1625) was a Protestant divine of great distinction, serving as Professor of Philosophy at Sedan, Professor of Divinity at Saumur (1608) and at Glasgow (1620).  Darling:  “He was a man of good genius and judgment, a good philosopher; not much acquainted with the works of the fathers; obstinate in his opinions.  He adopted a more enlarged mode of explaining the doctrine of grace than Calvin, which was followed by Amyraut.”  Ibid., 563-564.  He wrote, among other things, Prælectiones in Selectiora Quædam Loca Novi Testamenti and Myrothecium Evangelicum, in quo Aliquot Loca Novi Testamenti Explicantur.

[7] Cicero’s De Senectute 18.

[8] Luke 23:39-43.

James 2:13: The Obligation to Show Mercy

Verse 13:[1] For (Job 22:6, etc.; Prov. 21:13; Matt. 6:15; 18:35; 25:41, 42) he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and (1 John 4:17, 18) mercy rejoiceth (or, glorieth[2]) against judgment.

[Judgment, etc., ἡ γὰρ κρίσις ἀνίλεως— ἔλεος] In our Writers ἔλεος/mercy signifies, not only lenience in exacting punishments, but also every sort of Beneficence, answering to the Hebrew חֵן/grace/favor, as it appears in Genesis 19:19;[3] Numbers 11:15;[4] and elsewhere. So also in Matthew 9:13;[5] 12:7; 23:23.[6] The Law of the Gospel is that we do good to all: he that does not do this shall be treated harshly, Matthew 7:1, etc.; 25:41, 42 (Grotius). So that he might add weight to the preceding argument taken from the future judgment, he shows of what sort that future is, that is, diverse, as they have conducted themselves in diverse ways, and are merciful or unmerciful (Gataker). [Thus they render the words:] For judgment (or, damnation, or condemnation [Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, Arabic]: But it is better to take κρίσιν in a general way, as it is evident from the following induction of particulars [Gomar], so that it might be common to judgment both without mercy, and with mercy [Estius]: Understand, there shall be [Beza, Estius, etc.], that is, on the last day, when a reckoning of all things is to be rendered [Gataker]) without mercy (that is, tempered with no mercy, that is, sparing or condoning sin [Vorstius]: Hence it may be gathered that reprobates are not to be punished less than their deserving, but according to the inflexible justice of God [Estius]) to him that did not show mercy (Beza, etc.). Namely, to his neighbors (Estius, thus Beza); that was hard and severe toward them, or did not help them, Matthew 25:42 (Beza): and much more he that injured shall experience God as just and sever in his judgment (Estius).

For he shall have judgment without mercy; shall be judged according to the rigour of the law, by pure justice without any mixture of mercy. That hath showed no mercy; that hath been cruel and unmerciful to his neighbour here.

[It super-exalts, etc., καὶ κατακαυχᾶται ἔλεος κρίσεως] And (or, but [Castalio, Gataker]) glories (or, scoffs [Castalio], super-glories or super-exalts [Valla, Erasmus, Vatablus, Zegers], triumphs, that is, brings to pass that we triumph [Grotius]: or, contra-glories [Montanus]) mercy (or, pity [Castalio], or, beneficence [Grotius]) against (or, above [Zegers]) judgment (Erasmus, Tigurinus), or, condemnation (Illyricus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator). Mercy here is understood, either, 1. of God as judge (certain interpreters in Estius); so that the sense might be, In the judgment of God, His mercy shall prevail over justice (certain interpreters in Estius, thus Louis Cappel), namely, toward those that are merciful (Louis Cappel); or toward the elect, who all are to be judged with mercy (certain interpreters in Estius). But this does not sufficiently cohere with the context (Gomar). Or, 2. of Man to be judged (Estius, thus Gomar, Gataker), that is, as he has done toward his neighbors (Estius, similarly Estius, Beza, Piscator, Vorstius); and mercy is put Metonymically for one exercising mercy (Vorstius, similarly Piscator). Mercy does not fear the just judgment of God (Vatablus, Castalio, Estius), but contends with it (Menochius, similarly Estius), and proves to be the conqueror (Menochius, thus Erasmus); and against that it glories in a certain manner (Estius, similarly Vorstius, Gomar), that is, it makes to glory (Gomar), because it shall, as it were, extort grace (Estius), by reason of which he shall escape the severity of judgment (Estius, similarly Tirinus); not indeed as absolution’s cause, but as its condition and evidence, according to the promise, Matthew 5:7; 25:35 (Gomar). The sense: But, on the other hand, Beneficence has this, that it does not fear condemnation, and that it frees us from that, Matthew 5:7; 25:37. God is not able to condemn the imitators of His goodness. For the Hebrews also say that among God’s מדות, or attributes, Clemency is first. See Jacchiades on Daniel 9:4, 5.[7] Seneca the Elder: The whole world would have perished, except mercy limited wrath.[8] In a manuscript, it is not incorrectly set down as κατακαυχάσθω, let it glory. Let it cause it to be that ye triumph through beneficence. And the Syriac follows this sense (Grotius). The sense: The merciful shall not so fear condemnation, that they scoff at it in a certain manner; and are able to glory and rejoice, as those that have escaped condemnation (Piscator). The Antithesis suggests this sense (Beza, similarly Piscator).

And mercy rejoiceth against judgment; either, 1. The mercy of God rejoiceth and glorieth over judgment, being as it were superior and victorious in relation to those that show mercy, to whom the promise of obtaining mercy is made, Matthew 5:7. Or rather, 2. The mercy of men, i.e. of those that deal mercifully with others; their mercy having the mercy and promise of God on its side, need not fear, but rather may rejoice, and as it were glory against judgment, as not being like to go against them. Objection. Is not this to make some ground of glorying to be in men themselves, contrary to Psalm 143:2; Romans 4:2? Answer. Mercy in believers is an evidence of their interest in God’s mercy, which prevails on their belief against his justice; and so its rejoicing against judgment, is not against it as overcome by itself, but by God’s mercy. Thus both senses are included.

[1] Greek:  ἡ γὰρ κρίσις ἀνίλεως τῷ μὴ ποιήσαντι ἔλεος·  καὶ κατακαυχᾶται ἔλεος κρίσεως.

[2] Greek:  κατακαυχᾶται.

[3] Genesis 19:19a:  “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace (חֵן; ἔλεος, in the Septuagint) in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life…”

[4] Numbers 11:15:  “And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour (חֵן; ἔλεος, in the Septuagint) in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.”

[5] Matthew 9:13a:  “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy (ἔλεον), and not sacrifice…”  Likewise in Matthew 12:7.

[6] Matthew 23:23:  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy (τὸν ἔλεον), and faith:  these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

[7] Rabbi Joseph, son of David, son of Joseph Jachia (died 1539), wrote a well-regarded Paraphrase on Daniel.

[8] Declamations 1:1:6.  Marcus Annæus Seneca, or Seneca the Elder (54 BC-39 AD) was a Roman rhetorician and author, father of the Stoic philosopher, Seneca the Younger.

James 2:12: The Guilt of even One Violation of the Law, Part 3

Verse 12:[1] So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by (Jam. 1:25) the law of liberty.

[So speak ye, so do ye] That is, thus conduct yourselves (Menochius, Gataker), both in words and in deeds; for this respect of persons was consisting in both (Gataker). The previous doctrine concerning the respect of persons (Estius, Gataker), which he began with a dehortation, he concludes with an exhortation (Gataker), or general admonition: which nevertheless opens the way to the following doctrine concerning faith and works (Estius). Others: He shows that those things, which he had said concerning the Law of Moses, are to be adjusted to the Evangelical Law. The Law of Moses threatens capital punishment for certain deeds; the Law of the Gospel threatens Gehenna, not only for deeds, but also for words, Matthew 5:22 (Grotius).

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

[As, etc., ὡς—μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι] As those that by the law of liberty (that is, that law of charity, concerning which verse 8 [Estius]: He understands, either, 1. the law of Moses [Piscator in Laurentius]: which he thus calls, [either] because it freely condemns transgressors [Piscator]; for without respect of persons it equally regards all, of which Law they were making themselves guilty by their προσωποληψίᾳ, respect of persons [Gataker]: [or] because true liberty is to be subject to the moral Law [certain interpreters], and no one is free, except he who is occupied in the study of the Law, as the Hebrews say [Dieu on Romans 9:15]: Or, 2. the Evangelical Law [Menochius, Grotius, Vorstius, Pareus]: which is so called, [either] from its effect: See what things are said on James 1:25 [Vorstius]: [or] because whoever follows it, they ought to be free even from those vices that were not punished by the law of Moses: See 2 Corinthians 3:17 [Grotius]: [or] because it freed us from the ceremonial law [Hammond, similarly Beza], and from the complete rigor and malediction of the Law [even of the moral Law] [Calvin]) are to be judged (Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, etc.), or, are judging, namely, the brethren; that is, not despising, but loving, them, as the grace of the Gospel requires. I understand κρίνεσθαι in the middle voice actively (Pareus). It does not belong to us to choose which precepts we might wish to obey, and which not. It is not sufficient for salvation, if, with the greater despised, we do the lesser, says Salvian[2] (Grotius). The Law of liberty means the same thing here as the mercy of God, which frees us from the cures of the Law. He means this, Unless ye are willing to be placed under the rigor of the Law, be ye not overly rigid with your neighbors; let us not shut out by excessive severity the leniency of God, of which we all have need (Calvin).

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, etc., 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.

[1] Greek:  οὕτω λαλεῖτε καὶ οὕτω ποιεῖτε, ὡς διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι.

[2] De Gubernatione Dei 3:8.  Salvian was a Christian author of the fifth century, writing of the fall of the Roman Empire.

James 2:11: The Guilt of even One Violation of the Law, Part 2

Verse 11:[1] For he that said (or, that law which said[2]), (Ex. 20:13, 14) 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.

[For He that said, etc.] With the punishment of death attached to Adulterers, Deuteronomy 22:22, and to Murderers, Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17, 21; Deuteronomy 19:13 (Grotius). It is proof (and a clearing [Estius]) of the preceding sentence (Estius, Calvin, similarly Menochius).

[Thou art become a transgressor (in a manuscript it is ἀποστάτης, an apostate,[3] מרד, a rebel, Numbers 14:9;[4] Joshua 22:19[5] [Grotius]) of the Law] He understands, and hence guilty of all; because thou sinnest both against God, and against the Law (Estius): in both the authority of the same Lawgiver is despised, and the whole observation of the precepts is violated (Menochius). Παραβαίνειν, to transgress, מָעַל, to act treacherously, is not used of just any sort of deed againt the Law, but of those graver deeds[6] (Grotius).

For he that said, etc.: 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.

[1] Greek:  ὁ γὰρ εἰπών, Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, εἶπε καί, Μὴ φονεύσῃς·  εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύσεις, φονεύσεις δέ, γέγονας παραβάτης νόμου.

[2] Greek:  ὁ—εἰπών.

[3] Thus Codex Alexandrinus.

[4] Numbers 14:9a:  “Only rebel not ye (אַל־תִּמְרֹדוּ; μὴ ἀποστάται γίνεσθε ὑμεῖς, in the Septuagint) against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land…”

[5] Joshua 22:19b:  “…but rebel not against the Lord, nor rebel against us (וּבַֽיהוָ֣ה אַל־תִּמְרֹ֗דוּ וְאֹתָ֙נוּ֙ אֶל־תִּמְרֹ֔דוּ; καὶ μὴ ἀποστάται ἀπὸ θεοῦ γενήθητε καὶ μὴ ἀπόστητε ἀπὸ κυρίου, in the Septuagint), in building you an altar beside the altar of the Lord our God.”

[6] For example, Leviticus 26:40:  “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me (בְּמַעֲלָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר מָֽעֲלוּ־בִ֑י; ὅτι παρέβησαν καὶ ὑπερεῖδόν με, in the Septuagint), and that also they have walked contrary unto me…”

James 2:10: The Guilt of even One Violation of the Law, Part 1

Verse 10:[1] For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

[But whosoever the whole law (that is, the greatest part of the Law [Vatablus] would keep (in the place of τηρήσει, he shall keep, in a manuscript it is πληρώσει, he shall fulfill,[2] which expression is found in Romans 13:8;[3] Psalm 20:4, 5[4] [Grotius]), but offends (or, falls short [Castalio], would stumble [Beza]: Πταίειν signifies to stumble, and is less than to fall, as it is evident from Romans 11:11:[5] But he makes use of this expression, not so that he might signify that the fall is slight, but because they were reckoning it to be such [Estius]) in one (namely, of those things for which capital punishment was appointed, as what follows shall make evident; Deuteronomy 7:25, תִּוָּקֵשׁ, thou be ensnared, is translated in Greek πταίσῃς, thou stumble [Grotius]), he is made, etc., γέγονε πάντων ἔνοχος] He renders himself obnoxious to the whole law (Tremellius). He is held to all (Pagnine, Castalio, Piscator). He is made guilty (or, condemned [Beza], or, under obligation [the Syriac and Arabic in Grotius], namely, of punishment [Grotius]) of all (Erasmus, Illyricus). For a second time he argues from the Law of Moses to the Evangelical Law (Grotius). But this may be able to appear to be a strange paradox, which has also exercised the capacities of many (Gataker). It is to be inquired, then, in what sense this is to be understood (Estius). Responses: 1. Not distributively, as if every and each precept was transgressed (Estius, thus Gataker), for thus the very opinion is inconsistent with itself (Estius); and the natures and definitions of diverse sins are diverse (Gataker). 2. Not as if he would establish that all sins are equal (Gataker, similarly Calvin, Beza, Estius). For neither does he say that one is equally guilty, who offends in one thing, and who offends in another, or who offends in many (Estius out of Augustine). 3. Not distributively or separately, but copulatively and conjointly, this is to be taken (Tirinus); that is to say, he is guilty of the whole Law (Estius, Tirinus), as not kept. The whole Law is, as it were, one garment, which is damaged as a whole, if you cut away even one part from it; the whole Law is, as it were, harmony in music, which is spoiled as a whole, if even a single voice is dissonant (Tirinus); as it were, a golden chain, which is broken as a whole, if you break a single link (Gataker). The whole Law is copulative (Gataker out of Strigelius), with respect to precept, or to prohibition, Matthew 19:19; Luke 10:27. In a copulative proposition, the truth of all is required; in a disjunctive proposition, the truth of any (Gataker). He violates the Whole Law, but not the Whole of the Law (Gataker out of Beza); just as a murderer kills the whole man, but not the whole of the man; or just as a whole covenant is made void, if even one of its many conditions be violated. For good, the wholeness of goodness is required; for evil, a single defect suffices. On account of the leprosy of any part the whole man was judged leprous.[6] The company of virtues is indivisible,[7] and, whoever has one vice has them all, says Seneca (Gataker). He is guilty of all, because he sins against charity, which is the sum of the Law, and upon which all things depend (Gataker out of Augustine): therefore, those very precepts, which he observes with respect to the substance of the work, he does not observe with respect to the due manner, that is, in such a way that those things might be pleasing to God; because he observes none of them out of charity (Tirinus), none of them out of conscience of the precept and of the authority of God, which are the same in all (Gataker); and therefore, if by the same assault of temptation he be incited against the remaining precepts, he would transgress those as well (Gataker out of Mart.). Therefore, he sins against the author of the whole Law (Gataker), and despises the authority of the one commanding (Menochius, similarly Beza), which in all the precepts ought to be to us the most important thing unto the keeping of them. 4. Ἔνοχος πάντων, guilty of all, that is, ὡς πάντων ἔνοχος, as one guilty of all (Grotius). He is no less guilty of sin than one who violates all, neither does the observation of the rest free him from the punishment due to the violation of one precept. For a debt is not loosened by a debt (Gataker). He is no less punished with death than if he had violated all the precepts (Grotius). He is condemned exactly as if he were wanting in all (Castalio, similarly Menochius), although he is not to be buffeted with equal punishment (Menochius); his virtues are not able to abolish that sin. As if anyone should faithfully serve a King, if he should commit anything capital, he pays the penalty no less than if he had transgressed in many things. See Ezekiel 3 and 33 (Castalio). Thus also the Rabbis say, He that transgresses one precept, it is as if he would transgress all (Grotius, thus Drusius). For one depends upon another:[8] and in Pesikta[9] 50:1, Whoever says, I take to myself the whole law except one word, he has despised the word of the Lord, and violated His precepts (Drusius). This passage silences both the perfection of human righteousness, and a satisfaction for sins through other good works (Gataker). Hence it is proven that there is no righteousness, except in the perfect observation of the Law (Calvin). But to what end does James say these things? Namely, that he might expose the hypocrisy of those who out of the precepts of the Law select what they like; to themselves they appear to fulfill the Law (Beza). He sets this over against the error of the Pharisees, which was that a man is reputed as righteous before God if he should keep the greater part of the Law, even if he be a transgressor of the Law in fewer things (Estius out of Burgos[10]). The Rabbis say, Whoever establishes one precept [is] as if he would establish the entire law (Drusius). James means this, that one’s Neighbors are not loved, when only some part [of the Law] is chosen for show, with other parts neglected. This proves that the obedience is not toward God, when there is not a uniform zeal for compliance. God does not desire to be honored with exception, or, thus to divide with us, that it might be lawful for us to trim from His Law, if anything be less pleasing or convenient (Calvin).

For whosoever shall keep: this is not an assertion, that any man doth keep the whole law so as to offend but in one point, but a supposition that if, or admitting, such a one were. The whole law; all the rest of the law, that one point only of the whole being excepted. And yet offend in one point; slip, or trip, or stumble at; it seems to signify the least failing in any point of the law. He is guilty of all; guilty of the breach, and obnoxious to the punishment, of all; not distributively, or separately, as if he transgressed every precept distinctly; but, 1. Conjunctively or copulatively; he is guilty of not keeping the whole law, though not of breaking each particular command; he breaks the whole law, though not the whole of the law: as he that wounds a man’s arm wounds the whole man, though not the whole of the man; he that breaks one link breaks the whole chain, and he that fails in one musical note spoils the whole harmony. 2. He sins against charity, which is the sum of the law, and upon which all the commands depend; and so though he keep most of them, as to the substance, yet he keeps none of them in a right manner, because none out of love, which should be the principle out of which he observes all of them. 3. He sins against the authority of the whole law, which is the same in every command. 4. He is liable to the same punishment, though not the same degree of it, as if he had broken all the commandments, Galatians 3:1; and his keeping most, cannot exempt him from the punishment due for the breach of that one. This he speaks either in opposition to the Pharisees among the Jews, who thought themselves righteous if they kept most of the law, though in some things they came short; or rather, against hypocrites among Christians, who would pick and choose duties, obey some commands and neglect others; whereas no obedience to God is right, but that which is impartial, and respects all the commands, Psalm 119:6; Matthew 5:19.

[1] Greek:  ὅστις γὰρ ὅλον τὸν νόμον τηρήσει, πταίσει δὲ ἐν ἑνί, γέγονε πάντων ἔνοχος.

[2] Thus Codex Alexandrinus.

[3] Romans 13:8:  “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another:  for he that loveth another hath fulfilled (πεπλήρωκε) the law.”

[4] Psalm 20:4, 5:  “Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil (יְמַלֵּא; πληρώσαι, in the Septuagint) all thy counsel.  We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners:  the Lord fulfil (יְמַלֵּא; πληρώσαι, in the Septuagint) all thy petitions.”

[5] Romans 11:11:  “I say then, Have they stumbled (ἔπταισαν) that they should fall?  God forbid:  but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

[6] See Leviticus 13; 14.

[7] Epistularum Moralius 7:68.

[8] For similar sentiments see Babylonian Talmud “Erubin” 69:1; Bemidbar Rabbah 9:192, 193; Zohar upon Exodus 20:2; 37:1, and upon Leviticus 32:3; Shemot Rabbah 25:109:3.

[9] The Pesikta is a collection of Haggadic Midrash, covering material in the Pentateuch and Prophets.  It was probably compiled in the ninth century.

[10] Paulus of Burgos, or Pablo de Santa Maria (c. 1351-1435), was a Spanish Rabbi, and a Talmudic and Rabbinic scholar.  He converted to Roman Catholicism, took the degree of Doctor of Theology, and was made Archbishop of Burgos.  His reputation as an exegete was secured by his Additiones to Lyra’s Postilla.

James 2:9: Regarding the Rich and the Poor, Part 8

Verse 9:[1] But (Jam. 2:1) if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

[If, etc., εἰ δὲ προσωποληπτεῖτε] He makes a verb ἀναλογικῶς/ analogically from the noun προσωπολήπτης, respecter of persons[2] (Grotius). But if a person (or, persons [Vatablus, Estius], or, a face [Beza]) ye respect (Piscator). By honoring the rich, by despising the poor; rather than the merits of positions (Estius).

[Ye work sin] Or, ye commit (Beza, Piscator). Thus is used ἐργάζεσθαι ἀνομίαν, to work lawlessness, Matthew 7:23 (Grotius), and κακὸν ἐργάζεσθαι, to work ill, Romans 13:10, and ἐργάζεσθαι δικαιοσύνην, to work righteousness, Acts 10:35; Hebrews 11:33, and ἐργάζεσθαι ἀγαθόν, to work good, Romans 2:10 (Gataker).

But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin; the second part of the apostle’s answer, in which he sets persons in opposition to neighbour: q.d. If you, instead of loving your neighbour, which excludes no sort of men, poor no more than rich, choose and single out (as ye do) only some few (viz. rich men) to whom ye give respect, despising others, ye are so far from fulfilling the royal law, that ye sin against it.

[Refuted, etc., ἐλεγχόμενοι, etc.] And ye are refuted by the law (either, 1. by that Law, which forbids the accepting of persons, Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17 [Menochius]; Deuteronomy 16:19: But this Law is also to be taken in this place in such a way that it not only pertains to judgments, but also to signs of honor in the assembly of the Church: For there is also in this a certain appearance of judgment [Grotius]: Or, 2. by the law of charity just now mentioned, in which this precept concerning not accepting persons is contained [Estius]) as transgressors[3] (Beza, thus Erasmus, Piscator). Not of this or that precept, but absolutely, that is transgressors of the Law, as it shall be evident from what follows (Estius). כמועל, as a transgressor or one acting unfaithfully. See Romans 2:25, 27;[4] Galatians 2:18;[5] James 2:11[6] (Grotius). Yet not by this discourse does the Apostle remove, or disturb, order, whether natural or civil, in which distinctions of persons and offices are sanctioned [which also is established by many, and those most plain, passages of Scripture]: but he reprehends only that προσωποληψίαν, respect of persons, which rests upon, not virtue and office, but upon external appearances, riches, etc., and honors the unworthy, with the neglect and contempt of the worthy (Pareus).

And are convinced of the law; either by the particular law against respecting persons, Leviticus 19:15, or rather, by that very law you urge; your thus partially respecting the rich to the excluding of the poor, being so contrary to the command of loving your neighbour, which excludes none. As transgressors; i.e. to be transgressors, viz. of the whole law, as fellows.

[1] Greek:  εἰ δὲ προσωποληπτεῖτε, ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε, ἐλεγχόμενοι ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου ὡς παραβάται.

[2] Acts 10:34:  “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons (προσωπολήπτης)…”

[3] Greek:  ὡς παραβάται.

[4] Romans 2:25, 27:  “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law:  but if thou be a breaker (παραβάτης) of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision….  And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision art a transgressor (παραβάτην) the law?”

[5] Galatians 2:18:  “For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor (παραβάτην).”

[6] 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 (παραβάτης) of the law.”

James 2:8: Regarding the Rich and the Poor, Part 7

Verse 8:[1] If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:8, 9; Gal. 5:14; 6:2) Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well…

[If, etc., εἰ μέντοι—τελεῖτε, etc.] Nevertheless, if (or, if indeed [Augustine in Zegers], but if [Beza], truly if [Piscator], certainly if [Vatablus]) ye do thoroughly (or, fulfill [Beza, Piscator]: τελεῖν is the same as elsewhere τηρεῖν, to keep, or ποιεῖν, to do, or πράττειν, to perform, James 2:10,[2] 11; Romans 2:25;[3] and νόμον/law is the same as τὰ τοῦ νόμου, the things of the law, Romans 2:13, 14[4] [Gataker]) the law regal, or royal (that is, the Law of mutual charity [Tirinus, thus Estius], or, concerning loving one’s neighbor [Piscator, thus Menochius, Beza]: which is called royal, either, 1. because it is the law of God, as the Syriac translates it here: For God is often called king absolutely, as in Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 51:57: Thus Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35 [Dieu]: The Law proceeding from God, who is the King of Kings [certain interpreters in Estius, Menochius]: Or, 2. because it is Christ’s Law, who is our King, John 18:37; Hebrews 7:2; Revelation 1:5; 14:3, 4 [Grotius, similarly Gomar]: Or, 3. because it is the Law of Kings concerning the honoring of magistracy, constituted by Himself, of which sort is that in Esther 6:8, 9 [certain interpreters in Estius]: Or, 4. because the Law is to be fulfilled with an almost Royal spirit, that is, with a brave and constant mind; which sort of mind is now needful that we might act ἀπροσωπολήμπτως, without respect of persons[5] [Junius]: Or, 5. that is to say, which contains in itself what is regal, and prescribes by royal authority, which ye are bound to obey, not to command: He urges this, lest through προσωποληψίαν, respect of persons, they should force the Law to serve their affections, and so be, not ποιηταὶ νόμου, doers of the law, but rather κριταὶ/judges, as he says in James 4:11 [Dieu]: Or, 6. by proverbial formula [Beza], like the royal way in Numbers 21:22 [Beza out of Calvin], that is, flat, straight, and uniform, which is tacitly opposed to winding byroads, or roundabout ways [Calvin]: The Law, which conducts directly to the Kingdom of heaven [certain interpreters in Estius], which stands open to all without any respect of persons, but does not flatter anyone [certain interpreters in Dieu]; which has regard to all persons, not some only [Gataker]: Or, 7. the Law, shining, to be sure, magnificent and excellent, or, inviolable [Vatablus, similarly Tirinus]: Or, 8. because the precept of charity unto the neighbor [Estius, thus Vorstius], which here follows [Estius], and unto God [Vorstius], is the highest and principal in the Law [Estius, similarly Tirinus], and it obtains Royal Power, as it were, among the Laws of God; since it is general, and comprehends in itself all the other special laws [Vorstius], unto which the rest are to be referred, and through which the rest are fulfilled [Estius]) according to the scripture (namely, Leviticus 19:18 [Estius]: Thus, as the scripture says, John 7:38 [Gataker]), Thou shalt love thy neighbor (the words are from the Septuagint version of Leviticus 19:18, but which are to be understood here μυστικῶς/ mystically; so that the neighbor might be, not only an Israelite, but any man, and love might be understood of which sort the Gospel prescribes [Grotius]) as thyself (this denotes quality, not equality; proportion, not equality; mode, not measure [Gataker]), beautifully (or, well [Beza, Piscator, etc.]) ye do (Montanus, etc.). Thus Psalm 14:3 (Grotius). See also Acts 10:33; 1 Corinthians 7:38 (Gataker). The sense: If in this, that ye honor the rich, ye keep that great commandment, Thou shalt love, etc., and so honor whomever according to their dignity and merits, whether he be rich or poor; or, if ye honor the rich without injury to anyone, ye do rightly; the preceding reprehension does not pertain to you (Estius). Others: The sense: Nevertheless, I do not will the rich to be held with hatred or contempt, but to be loved and honored according to the common law of charity (Estius). Others: Thus the argument: This respect of persons is repugnant to the law of charity: Therefore, it is evil. But this is proposed hypothetically. A proposition is here omitted, and in its place the opposite part is proposed. It was able to be objected that the Law of God prescribes this, that we honor and love the neighbor, this one or that one, as it pleases; but especially our superiors! He responds as if one should say to dishonest servants, If this is the will of our lord, if he approves this, it is well (Gataker).

If ye fulfil; or, perfect; the word signifies to accomplish perfectly, but no more is meant by it than sincerity in observing the duties of the law in an indifferent respect to one as well as another, which he seems to oppose to their partiality in the law, by respecting some and neglecting others. The royal law; either the law of God the great King, or Christ the King of saints; or rather, the royal law is the king’s law, i.e. the great law which is the same to all, rich and poor, the common rule by which all are to act, as, the king’s way, Numbers 21:22, i.e. the great plain way in which all are to travel. Here may likewise be a tacit reflection on the servile disposition of these accepters of men’s persons, evil becoming them that pretended to be governed by the royal law, which was to be observed with a more free and king-like spirit. According to the Scripture: see Matthrew 22:39; Galatians 5:14. Ye do well; ye are not to be blamed, but commended. The apostle seems here to answer an objection they might make in their own defence; that in the respect they gave to rich men, they did but act according to the law which commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves: to this he replies partly in this verse by way of concession, or on supposition; that if the respect they gave to rich men were indeed in obedience to the law of charity, which commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves, then they did well, and he found no fault with them; but the contrary he shows in the next verse.

[1] Greek:  εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικόν, κατὰ τὴν γραφήν, Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε·

[2] James 2:10:  “For whosoever shall keep (τηρήσει) the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

[3] Romans 2:25:  “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep (πράσσῃς) the law:  but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.”

[4] Romans 2:13, 14:  “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers (οἱ ποιηταὶ) of the law shall be justified.  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law (φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῇ), these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves…”

[5] 1 Peter 1:17:  “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons (ἀπροσωπολήπτως) judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear…”  See James 2:1, 9; 3:17.