Read verses 8-11
Q: Why does James call this “the royal law”?
A: This is the “new commandment” given by Christ which does not simply meet minimum requirements for personal relationships, but fulfills the whole Law.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
— John 13:34
Q: How does James connect this with the Law?
A: He quotes from Leviticus 19:18, 34 which Jesus said summarized all the Law which pertained to the second tablet governing our relationships with others. (Mt. 22:39-40)
Point: This teaching in James is the earliest of those found in the epistles which substantiate how the whole Law has now been summarized by Christ into the commandment to love others. Whereas the Old Covenant was characterized by the two tablets and every Old Testament Law was subordinated to either loving God (the first tablet) or loving others (the second tablet), Christ further condensed it into loving others as He loved. In other words, in order to prove we love God it must first be proved by our love for others.
This is proven by the fact that after Jesus issued this new commandment, no one ever quotes from the first tablet again. Beginning here with James, the Apostles only quote from the second tablet that we must love others as the fulfillment of the whole Law. In the course of his ministry Paul teaches…
we nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
— Romans 13:8-10
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Galatians 5:14
And at the end of the 1st Century church John, the last Apostle standing, reaffirms in the end what had always been taught by the Apostles from the beginning…
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
— 1 John 3:10-11
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
— 2 John 6
No one ever again quotes from the first tablet because the whole Law (both tablets) is fulfilled through the requirement to love others.
Q: So what is James’ point in v.10 about stumbling on one point of the law as it relates to “personal favoritism”?
A: In transgressing “the royal law” of love we are actually guilty of violating the whole Law.
Application: Biblical faithfulness is characterized by keeping the royal law of love for others, which is actually the fulfillment of the whole Law.