11

James mentions the law of liberty in v12 of this passage of scripture:

James 2:9-13

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 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. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

James started off by talking about not showing partiality among the rich and poor, that it is sin to do so. He mentions the "law" several times, referring to the laws of Moses in general, the "royal law" in v8, and the "law of liberty" in v12.

It's plain that the royal law (v8) is a part of the mosaic law mentioned throughout the passage, but it's not clear to me how the "law of liberty" (v12) ties in. Because of its proximity, it probably refers to v13, in which case it refers to the final judgment before God. However I've never seen God's judgment in terms of "law of liberty," so it is more perplexing rather than enlightening. I don't believe it is linked to the following verse.

Plain dictionary lookups for "law of liberty" yields no clues to the meaning to me, so perhaps it is idiomatic. Part of me thinks it refers to James' readers having liberty in Christ even to overcome the sin of showing partiality to their brethren, and God will judge how they use it. Perhaps the law of liberty means to use their liberty in a lawful manner — with love? So the law of liberty is the same as the royal law?

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  • James uses the same phrase in 1:25 "ὁ δὲ παρακύψας εἰς νόμον τέλειον τὸν τῆς ἐλευθερίας καὶ παραμείνας,...", NASB: "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it".
    – fumanchu
    Aug 21 '14 at 14:04
  • Hey Steve, please keep in mind that this is not a Christian site. Be sure to check out what makes us different from other sites that study the Bible. I made a slight edit to clearly focus this on the text and its original audience (rather than on contemporary faith communities and how the passage might apply in practice today, which is off topic here but can be addressed on Christianity). It's a good textual question, I just wanted to make that clarification.
    – Dan
    Aug 21 '14 at 18:55

10 Answers 10

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The phrase "νόμου ἐλευθερίας μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι" reads as "(the) law of freedom being about to be judged".

Where this "law of liberty" comes into being is from John 13:34,

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Whereas the Law could be summed up in commandments,(Matt. 22:36-40)

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

this "New" commandment spelled out what that love for each other should look like (ie: as I have loved you). Since in Christ we are made free,(John 8:36)

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,

therefore, those who are in Christ are made "free" from mere observance of the outward "Law" and have instead, an even higher standard (as I love you), which only the freedom in Christ can allow us to keep.

Paul sums it up by saying,(1 Tim 1:5)

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

To walk in the "Law of Liberty" and fulfill all the Law is to walk in love.

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  • This answer might be strengthened if it connected to the "compassion" in v13 and "love the one near you" in v8.
    – fumanchu
    Aug 21 '14 at 14:09
  • Tau, (A.) I too believe it is plausible that "The Law of Liberty" is *pragmatically equivalent to, "love as I have loved." (B.) However, as @fumanchu wrote, I would like to see more "connecting the dots". (C.) Your argument that there is a law/precept setting people free from the "outward law"--through the law to "love as I have loved" actually serves to distinguish the "Law of Liberty" as a separate concept from the law, "to love as I have loved." As though, the Law of Liberty is a body of laws, including the commandment to "love as I have loved." May 26 '15 at 21:33
  • @e.s.kohen To love as Christ loved, means to "have Christ's love" which is a gift from God, not one that can be internally generated. This "agape/love" fulfills the Law, yet is beyond the Law, because whereas the Law was concerned with outward expression, this love goes beyond outward expression and permeates the entire being of the person. It is indeed, the "law of liberty" because no law can effect it, it is the "charity" Paul talks about in 1 Cor. 13
    – Tau
    May 27 '15 at 5:20
  • @tau I understand the doctrine you are pointing out. I get it. But what I am wondering is if there is any textual basis that would indicate that the Law of Liberty is actually this commandment, or if this is your opinion. I am just not understanding the "path" that you are taking to infer this from Scripture--but I am not certain you are claiming to. May 27 '15 at 6:51
  • @e.s.kohen What I'm saying is the "Law of liberty" is a euphemism throughout the NT for "The Law of love". This is "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts"(Rom. 5:5), therefore, there is no code, text, or theology to regulate it-it is the gift of God. The Law requires love, but grace(unmerited favor) gives it in a greater measure than is required by the Law; therefore, it is called the "Law of liberty" because it exceeds the requirement of the Law, which only a 'free' person can give.
    – Tau
    May 27 '15 at 14:54
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What is “the law of liberty” in James 2:12?

The Law covenant with mediator Moses was terminated at Pentecost 33 C.E. Christians come under the "law of Christ "(1 Cor. 9:21). James referred to it as "the perfect law the law of freedom" or "the law of liberty" ( James 1:25, 2:12 Rom. 3:27) with the mediator Jesus.

1 Corinthians 9:21 NASB

21 To those who are without the Law, I became as one without the Law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might gain those who are without the Law.

James 1:25 NASB

25 But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but [a]an active doer, this person will be blessed in [b]what he does

James 2:12 (KJV)

12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by "the law of liberty."

What is "the law of Christ " or "the law of liberty

Moses wrote the Law in code form, but Jesus did not personally put a law down in writing. He talked and put his law into the minds and hearts of his disciples. Neither did his disciples set down laws in the form of a code for Christians, classifying the laws into categories and subheadings. Nonetheless, the Christian Greek Scriptures are full of laws, commands, and decrees that the Christian is bound to observe.​

Also, such factors as race and place of birth are irrelevant. True Christians freely choose in their hearts to accept the yoke of obedience to this law. Jesus lived this law and by means of his perfect life course, he laid down a pattern for all to follow.

Some of the laws Christians are bound to observe:

1 John 5:2-3 NASB

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and [a]follow His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 4:21 NASB

21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.

1 John 3:22-23 NASB

22 and whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 This is His commandment, that we [a]believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He [b]commanded us.

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  • Yup, the Jews were ‘liberated’, set free from the Law’ that held them in bondage.
    – Dave
    Feb 10 at 18:20
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+100

My interpretation of this passage is based on the word “royal” in royal law. This word sets up the analogy of the law or principle of love as king, to which all the other laws act as subjects:

  • “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:38-40)

The author begins by saying that partiality (for the rich over the poor) is a transgression against the royal law:

  • Verses 8-9: You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

The law or the principle of love cannot be parsed, so if you violate one commandment under this principle, in essence you are violating the whole. In other words, a crime against any one of the subjects, is a crime against the king:

  • Verse 10: For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

Following this logic, the reverse is also true: if you abide by the principle that guides all the laws, you are fulfilling the entire law. In our analogy, if you answer directly to the king, you are above all his subjects. Thus if you abide by the royal law in everything that you say and do, then, in a way, you are liberated from the law. The royal law is the law of liberty because it frees rather than oppresses:

  • For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:14)
  • Verse 12: So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

The author makes two noticeable switches in his discussion: from the law to judgment, saying that we ourselves will be judged by the law of liberty, and from love to mercy:

  • Verse 13: For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy;

What these words say to me is that we will be judged by the love that we keep. The very last words are a powerful summation of the whole passage:

  • Vs 13: mercy triumphs over judgment.

These words serve as a reminder both that love triumphs over the law and that God’s mercy triumphs over our sins.

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The Apostle Paul alludes to the Law of Liberty in the following verse:

Romans 14:22-23 (NASB)
22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

The context in Romans is Christian liberty that causes other believers to stumble. That is, in this example when you exercise your "freedom" to eat unclean meat (sacrificed to idols), some may perceive such liberty as sinful. In other words, although your conscience is clear, the conscience of the person watching you is defiled.

1 Cor 8:9-12 (NASB)
9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

In like manner in the Book of James, the poor were "killed" when they heard other believers giving obvious preferential treatment to those wealthy among them. The conscience of the hosts was clear (liberty), but the words of preferential treatment were perceived (received) as murdering stabs of a knife into the heart.

James 2:11-13 (NASB)
11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

The allusion to mercy triumphing over judgment brings the reader to the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, he was condemned for the sins of the world (because he was "made to be sin" according to 2 Cor 5:21). What pulled him out of the grave was the relationship between the Father and the Son, notwithstanding that the Son had been condemned by sin.

Hebrews 5:7 (NASB)
7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

In other words, while God subsists in holiness and love, His love takes the logical priority but without any compromise to His holiness. That is, Jesus rose from the dead after complete atonement occurred (Hebrews 10:11-13); however, this complete atonement would have been worthless had not the resurrection occurred.

1 Cor 15:14 (NASB)
1 Cor 15:17-18 (NASB)
14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.... 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

Thus the theme in the Christian New Testament appears that "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet 4:8), because the love of God takes logical priority without any compromise to His holiness. Or as James states in this passage, "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). In this respect we can better understand how the love of God is therefore the basis of salvation (John 3:16).

In conclusion, the one who looks "intently into the mirror of the Law of Liberty" (James 2:23-25) will see the image of Jesus Christ reflected, albeit dimly according to 1 Cor 13:12-13. This image places logical priority on love, but without any compromise to holiness. The believer must therefore act and behave in the priority of love, but without any compromise to holiness. This concept is the Law of Liberty.

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What is “the law of liberty” in James 2:12?

It is the law written in our hearts and minds.

Hebrews 10:16

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

Who is doing this writing?

The indwelling Spirit.

John 14:26 Berean Study Bible

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.

What role is the Advocate?

HELPS Word-studies

3875 paráklētos (from 3844 /pará, "from close-beside" and 2564 /kaléō, "make a call") – properly, a legal advocate who makes the right judgment-call because close enough to the situation.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon

  1. "one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant; an advocate": Demosthenes, p. 341, 11; (Diogenes Laërtius 4, 50, cf. Dio Cassius, 46, 20.

The Advocate plays a legal role. He advises the believer on what is okay or not in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:16

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

The law of liberty in the Spirit and away from sinful desires of selfish flesh. That's the contrast.

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The same expression is found in James 1:25

But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does.

Even though many of the commands included in the Old Testament law are repeated in the New Testament, this doesn't mean that we ought to work our salvation by following the law like a worker waiting for the wages. If we try to live by it, we're gonna fail. Peter explains that in Acts 15:10-11

10 Since this is the case, why are you putting God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

Also, we know from James 1:21 that the word is implanted in our hearts

Therefore, ridding yourselves of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

So, the Holy Spirit can then enables us, as Paul addresses it in Romans 8:3-4

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So I'd say this law of freedom is two-sided

  • freedom from having to carry upon the neck a yoke that we couldn't bear
  • being enabled by the Holy Spirit to follow the law implanted in our hearts
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The best interpretation I have seen is basically to oppose a kind of antinomianism. After reading the freedom of the law so explicitly stated by Paul's letters possibly some Sadducee type intellectuals had a vain conceit that they would be judged by the law of liberty (read the gospel) and enter into that judgment based on faith, without having any works to verify the faith they comfortably claim while violently hurting the poor by favoring the rich. I say 'Sadducee type' because obviously the Pharisee type would never imagine someone ch a thing as they were all about showing works.

Therefore James is saying so you think you are prepared be judged by the law of liberty (i.e. the gospel law of imputed righteousness by faith not works) without works! I say, if you have no works then you should be more prepared to be judged by the royal law (the summation of the Mosaic Moral Law) without mercy (i.e. judged by the law not the gospel) for your faith is not genuine!

The famous classic commentary by Thomas Manton explains it well: 241

By the law of liberty.] ...in this expression the apostle may anticipate an objection, which might be framed against the rigour of the former sentence: they might pretend they had an exemption by Christ. The apostle granteth there was a liberty, but not a license; for still there is a law, though to the elect a law of liberty. But, saith he, see that your interest be good: to wicked men it is still a bondage, and a hard yoke; therefore walk so, that you may not be judged in a legal way, for then the least failing maketh you obnoxious to the curse; which rigour, if you would not undergo, see that you walk so that you may give evidence that you are come under the banner of love, and the privileges of the Gospel; and then, when you come to be judged, you will be judged upon Gospel terms; otherwise, there is no liberty or freedom for any that allow themselves in the least breach or voluntary neglect, nothing to be expected but judgment without mercy.

For he shall have judgment without mercy,] In which expression he intimateth the effect of the covenant of works, which is judgment without any mixture and temper of mercy, the law abating nothing to the transgressor; as also to imply the retaliation of God; hard men justly meet with hard dealing and recompence. (Thomas Manton, Commentary on James, p195)

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Question Restatement: Exegetically, is there anything in Biblical Texts that suggest what the "Law of Freedom" is, that is mentioned in James 1:25, and James 2:12.

Answer: The "Law of Liberty" is the "Law of Freedom"

The Greek word, "ἐλευθερίας" exists in both passages, and be translated as "Liberty"--or "Freedom":

James 1:25, GRK - ἰς νόμον τέλειον τὸν τῆς ἐλευθερίας

James 2:12, GRK - διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας

One justifiably begins with the hypothesis:

For such an important concept, this law must be referenced outside of Hebrews and James, and probably would be understood even by the Jewish community, as Christianity asserts the Mosaic Law was a "shadow" of the "Heavenly/Eternal Law".

But this concept is not clearly seen in any context, until the "Law of Liberty" is interpreted as the law about freedom, (i.e., "The Freedom Law", or "The Law of Freedom", (i.e. by applying Greek Attributive Genitive syntax)

By interpreting in this way, it is a "prima facie case" which law is being referred to, as the answer is quite literally all over the New Testament, and furthermore, was recognizable in Jewish Law, (Deut. 25), specifically:

Romans 7:2, NASB - For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

Romans 6:5-8, NASB - 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

Colossians 2:20-23, NASB - 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Galatians 4:21 - 5:1, NASB - 21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. ... It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

"Law" can Refer to a Single Commandment

It is not necessarily true that "Law" exclusively refers to the body of "Mosaic Laws", or "Eternal Laws", but can refer to one single law, for example:

"What is the Royal Law?"

James 2:8, NASB - If, however, you are fulfilling the royal [noble/kingly] law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

In this context, James explicitly identifies "the Royal Law", from the "Whole Law", (verse 10).

Transgressing the Perfect Law of Liberty

James, again, juxtaposes the "Perfect Law of Liberty" with the former law, directing the Christians to fulfill the Law of Liberty "in the same manner" that the former law was observed: where a transgression in one place, would constitute a transgression of the entire law :

James 2:12-23, NASB - So [in this way] speak and so [in this way] act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

James, without ambiguouity, states that, under the Law of Liberty, a failure to show mercy constitutes a transgression of the entire Law--a very profound assertion.

The Greatest Commandment

In both contexts where the "Great Commandment of the Law" is addressed, the answer is "Qualified" in connection with "the Mosaic Law". This raises the question, "if the Mosaic Law was imperfect, or incomplete, then what is the Greatest Commandment--of all?"

Matt. 22:36, NASB - “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

From a Christian point of view, the former "Great" commandment, to love--with all their hearts, minds, and might, (Lev. 19:18)--is superseded by the commandment to love--not with their ability, but to love as Jesus, with his heart, mind, and might*.

John 13:34, NASB - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Notably, Paul stated that this commandment fulfilled the "whole law":

Galatians 5:14, NASB - For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

So, What "Law" could this commandment fulfill?

Notably Paul spoke about two different laws:

Romans 8:2, NASB - For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

So, the "Law of Freedom", would presumably fall within the "Law of the Spirit", if not one and the same thing. The "Royal Law", would fulfill the Law of the Spirit, as it certainly cannot fulfill the laws of Moses, Circumcision, the Priesthood, keeping Kosher, etc.

What the Law of Liberty IS NOT

Addressing this is a "Pragmatic" exercise--not necessarily "Semantic". Identifying Contrast and Juxtaposition, in exegetical study, helps rule out possibilities, with the intent of narrowing down the remaining possibilities to a certainty.

The Law of Liberty is Perfect, the Mosaic Law is Not, and Merely a Shadow:

James 1:25, NASB - But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Hebrews 10:1, NASB - For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.

The "Law of Liberty" is not the "Mosaic Law or Tradition"

Col. 2:14-17 - having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Col. 2:20-23, NASB - If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Gal. 5:3-4, NASB - 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Gal. 5:11, NASB - 7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.

And then, Paul, (or is it [Christopher Hitchens][1]?), states:

Gal. 5:12, NASB - I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.

Gal 5:14, NASB - For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself, (Lev. 19:18).” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Resolving Matthew 5:17-19

Matthew 5:17-19, NASB - 17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Regardless if Jesus was commanding others not to annul the commandmenets, and commanded them not to teach others to do the same, this commandment was "Qualified"--in verse 18, "until all is accomplished". If this event occurs/occured, then this direction does not apply. Moreover, Jesus apparently exclused himself from this, as textually, it is argued that he did annul commandments, (the laws and traditions), and taught others this.

Eph. 2:14-17, NASB - 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances [δόγμασιν/decrees], so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;

Col. 2:13-14, NASB - 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees [δόγμασιν/ordinances] against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Col. 2:8, NASB - 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, [h]rather than according to Christ.

Acts 15:28-31, NASB - 28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” 30 So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.

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Sorry I am a few years late but...

If you keep God's Law you have liberty from sin. For sin is transgression of the Law.

Man, are some of these guys serious? I don't mean to be rude, but, Talk about workers of Lawlessness!

To be known by God means to Love God (1 Cor. 8:3). To Love God means to keep His commandments (1 John 5:3). To not be known by God means being a worker of lawlessness (Matt. 7:21-23). To be a worker of Lawlessness means to be a transgressor of the Law (1 John 3:4). Sin is slavery (John 8:34). Obeying the Law means Life and freedom from sin (Pro. 11:19; 19:16; Eccl. 8:5; Matt. 19:17; Rev. 22:14); for sinning (transgressing the Law) brings death and slavery (Ezekiel 18:4; 18:20; Jeremiah 31:30; Romans 1:32; 6:16; 6:23; 8:6; 8:13; Gal. 6:8; James 1:15). Jesus sets us free and then we remain free by repenting from transgression and imitating Christ, thus doing His lawful works and greater.

The Law is perfect:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

Heck, even the very context of James 2:11 makes it obvious that the Law of Liberty is the ten commandment Law:

For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom. (James 2:11-12)

For we are images of God. "The Testimony" is the Testimony of God's righteous image and character. What good is an image of God that does not reflect God's image? For this reason humanity shall be judged.

If we cross reference this back to James 1:25 then obviously James is speaking of the same Law:

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it--not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it--they will be blessed in what they do.

Now, does God's Testimony of His righteous character (the Ten Commandments) have any relevance to the followers of Christ? Why Yes; yes it does.

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. (Rev. 11:19)

After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple--that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law--and it was opened. (Rev. 15:5)

Not to get off-topic, but no one can argue that these passages are not for the Christian. To say that Revelation (or at least the above two passages) is written expressly to unbelieving Jews is to say that if one wanted to petition for the city to repave the roads in your town that one should give said petition to a homeless man instead of the mayor. Generally, the writer writes to his audience. The book of Revelation is for New Covenant Believers, obviously. So therefore, Revelation 11:19 and 15:5 are written to followers (as in imitators) of Christ.

Also, to say that Revelation 11:19 and 15:5 are written only for Jewish believers is to completely undermine the fact that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in Christ; a message that is made repetitively clear in the NT (Gal. 3:28; 5:6; Romans 3:29; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 3:11).

Not only that, but keeping the commandments of God is a repeating theme in the book of Revelation; so we know that the phrase "the commandments of God" is, of course, referring specifically to the ones God wrote with His own Finger and had placed inside of the Ark -- for John mentions the Ark that contains the ten commandments twice in this book. Just for the record, the unaltered fourth commandment is a part of this, guys.

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Rev. 14:12)

And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. (Rev. 14:12)

he one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations (Rev. 2:26)

Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. (Rev. 22:14)

The Law of Liberty is nothing new. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Man cannot Thwart His expectations with their lawlessness. The Bible makes it clear that we are not at liberty to be lawless, but rather we have liberty from lawlessness. For sin is lawlessness; so therefore, Lawlessness is bondage.

We cannot be freed from sin and yet be slaves to sin at the same time. The carnal Law is bondage, just as the sins of the flesh are bondage. The Spiritual Law is freedom from transgression. For the flesh and those chosen according to the flesh are not subject to the Spiritual Law of God, just as we who are Spiritual and chosen according to the Spirit are not subject to the carnal Law of Moses. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. What counts is that we keep the commands of God and His commandments are not burdensome. What are the commandments of God if not those He wrote with His own Finger?

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The perfect law of liberty is YHWH’s Torah. (YHWH is an English letter for letter transliteration of the Hebrew Scriptures name of our creator. Torah actually means teachings or instructions and not law. The Greek word “nomos” in the “New Testament” is used to denote the Hebrew word “torah” in the “Old Testament." Both are usually translated “law” in English translations. By virtue of the fact that these “teachings” come from the owner of the universe and us being his creations, they are law to us.) Keeping it brings liberty to us and those we live around. Breaking it brings bondage and judgment and curses and problems to us individually and to society.

YHWH’s Torah has the correct and righteous judgments. To the degree that any court system is just, it is because it is based upon YHWH’s ideas in Torah.

YHWH’s testimony (this word is used throughout the Law and the Prophets to mean the 10 commandments ) brings wisdom to the simple. Yes it is one of the first things that we teach to our children…almost every parent knows to do this.

David wrote:

Ps 119:44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. 45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Ps 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Jas 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Was James speaking of the same thing as David? Did he have a different law in mind?

Both David and James speak of a law that brings liberty. Both speak of our souls being saved/converted. Both speak of being deceived/having secret faults if we did not obey. Both speak of a reward/being blessed in our deed. David speaks of having our eyes enlightened and James of looking in a mirror to see clearly who we are to be. Both speak of being cleansed/laying apart all filthiness. Superfluity of naughtiness is much the same as presumptuous sin.

I think we all can see where James got his ideas.

When we look to other "New Testament" writers, we find that it is those that break YHWH’s law that are in bondage. Paul never said that keeping the law was bondage, as some modern churches assert. Both he and Messiah said that sin is bondage and that breaking the law is sin.

Ro 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid… 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin… 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

1Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Ro 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

James speaks more about the law of liberty in Chapter 2 of his letter and it is painfully obvious, to all who do not have bias against YHWH’s law, that it is YHWH’s Torah that he is describing.

Jas 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 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. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

The only scripture that existed as scripture to the writers of the “New testament” was the “Old Testament.” Where “according to the scripture” is this law that James speaks of found? In Torah. What does it say?

Le 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. 16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

So we see that James is discussing a specific place in Torah concerning respect of persons in regard to loving our neighbor. If we disobey this, we “commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” James has the same definition of sin that John and Paul do…transgressing YHWH’s Torah.

Then James goes further…and he uses the following commandments as examples of what law he is speaking of:

Jas 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.

Who is “he that said”? YHWH in Exodus 20. The commandments listed are directly from YHWH’s Torah. And, as James says, we are transgressors of YHWH’s law if we do not obey these commandments. And he has not changed subjects. He is speaking of YHWH’s Torah and he says that it is wrong to break it.

He tells us to be sure to keep YHWH’s Torah:

Jas 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

He is not telling us to keep a different law than what he always knew as YHWH’s law or that was always called the law. He is quoting it. He is communicating a very Biblical and Jewish idea just as David was…YHWH’s law brings liberty to all when it is kept. Bondage comes when we do not keep it. We have already seen that Messiah and Paul say this straight out.

Shalom

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! This site is a little different from other sites.. Please keep in mind that not all of your readers here are Christians. Be sure to visit the tour to learn more about this site. Jan 21 '15 at 20:07
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    @user6760, (A.) Your answer is unclear: are you arguing that James asserts the Mosaic Law as the "Law of Liberty"? (Which is contradicted by Acts 15:13-31); (B.) In the end, you seem to argue that the text states that If you keep the Law of God, your are free, but cursed if you do not. This, by definition--is not freedom, but slavery, bound to live under threat--completely absent in the text--and antithetical to Christianity. (C.) You seem to incorrectly imply that the word "Law" exclusively points to the Mosaic Law: the "Law of the Mind, (Romans 7:23)", or Luke 24:44, etc. May 26 '15 at 22:11
  • The Law of Liberty is Torah and the Law of Sin and Death is Oral Tradition that prevented a believer from following the Law of Liberty. You can see these two codes work against each other at the Pool of Bethesda. Law of Liberty setting free a lame man vs oral tradition that sought to keep him lame due to Sabbath day rules in the oral tradition User 6760 has this right on.
    – user6053
    Jun 7 '15 at 2:22

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