Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge (Jam 4:11) (KJV)

I don't get James' logic here. How is an act of judging a brother an act of judging the law?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Good question. One possibility is that you are complaining that the law has not properly judged and punished this brother. Think of how the elder brother begrudged his father's forgiveness of the prodigal when he returned. But I suspect we are missing something about Jewish legal interpretation here. The Law (Torah) is holy, the word of God, and by definition cannot be judged. Judging means slandering the neighbor, something the Law forbids you to do (Lev. 19), so by doing that you are "judging the law," i.e. putting yourself above the law, or as we would say "taking the law into your own hands."

share|improve this answer
"taking the law into your own hands"-Good answer! You condemn the Law by attempting to be the 'lawgiver', and in the next verse James says "there is One Lawgiver", so who are you? Of course, putting it into practice is the hard part; we can't be 'passive' in the face of evil, yet we clearly can't be 'Judge, Jury, and High Executioner". "Speak the truth in love", when we 1) know the truth, and 2) love God and the individual enough to speak it is a far better remedy. – Tau Jan 12 '14 at 11:47
Quite enlightening! Thank you. – brilliant Jan 12 '14 at 12:12

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.