James 2:9
But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) But if ye have respect to persons . . .—Translate, But if ye respect persons, ye work sin, and are convicted by the Law (i.e., at the bar of conscience) as transgressors. The first principle has been broken, and not a mere detail. De minimis non curat lex: the laws of men cannot concern themselves with trifles; but the most secret soul may be proven and revealed by some little act of love, or the contrary: and such is the way of the Lord “that searcheth the hearts” (Romans 8:27).

2:1-13 Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin - You transgress the plain law of God, and do wrong. See the references on James 2:1.

And are convinced of the law as transgressors - Greek "By the law." The word convinced is now used in a somewhat different sense from what it was formerly. It now commonly refers to the impression made on a man's mind by showing him the truth of a thing which before was doubted, or in respect to which the evidence was not clear. A man who doubted the truth of a report or a proposition may be convinced or satisfied of its truth; a man who has done wrong, though he supposed he was doing what was proper, may be convinced of his error. So a man may be convinced that he is a sinner, though before he had no belief of it, and no concern about it; and this may produce in his mind the feeling which is technically known as conviction, producing deep distress and anguish. See the notes at John 16:8. Here, however, the word does not refer so much to the effect produced on the mind itself, as to the fact that the law would hold such an one to be guilty; that is, the law pronounces what is done to be wrong. Whether they would be personally convinced of it, and troubled about it as convicted sinners, would be a different question, and one to which the apostle does not refer; for his object is not to show that they would be troubled about it, but to show that the law of God condemned this course, and would hold them to be guilty. The argument here is not from the personal distress which this course would produce in their own minds, but from the fact that the law of God condemned it.

9. Respect of persons violates the command to love all alike "as thyself."

ye commit sin—literally, "ye work sin," Mt 7:23, to which the reference here is probably, as in Jas 1:22. Your works are sin, whatever boast of the law ye make in words (see on [2604]Jas 2:8).

convinced—Old English for "convicted."

as transgressors—not merely of this or that particular command, but of the whole absolutely.

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.

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. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, &c. This is not doing well, but is a transgression of the law, as every sin is; hence it follows,

and are convinced of the law as transgressors; which carries on a formal process against such persons; it accuses them of sin, and charges them with it; it proves it upon them, and convicts them of it; it pronounces them guilty, and curses them for it; and passes the sentence of condemnation and death upon them; wherefore care should be taken not to commit this sin, and so fall under the convictions and reproofs of the law.

But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jam 2:9 is in sharp contrast to Jam 2:8, calling the conduct of his readers, in opposition to their pretext, by its true name, and designating it directly as sin. The verb προσωποληπτεῖν is a complete ἅπ. λεγ.; James uses this word with reference to the exhortation in Jam 2:1. On ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθαι, see Matthew 7:23; Acts 10:35; Hebrews 11:33. Theile: gravius fere est quam ἁμαρτίαν ποιεῖν, ἁμαρτάνειν. For the sake of heightening this judgment, James adds the participial sentence ἐλεγχόμενοι κ.τ.λ.: being convicted by the law as transgressors. If the προσωποληπτοῦντες appealed to a law, it is precisely the law by which they are convinced as transgressors, so that they are without excuse. By ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου is meant not a single commandment, neither the above-mentioned law of love, nor specially a commandment forbidding respect of persons, as Deuteronomy 16:19 (Lange), but the law generally; so also παραβάται is general: not as transgressors of one commandment, but of the law generally.Jam 2:9. προσωπολημπτεῖτε: see note on Jam 2:1; the word does not occur elsewhere in the N.T. nor in the Septuagint; cf. Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:19.—ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε: the strength of the expression is intended to remind his hearers that it is wilful, conscious sin of which they will be guilty, if they have this respect for persons on account of their wealth. It is well to bear in mind that the conception of sin among the Jews was not so deep as it became in the light of Christian teaching.—ἐλεγχόμενοι: i.e., by the words in Leviticus 19:15., μὴ θαυμάσῃς πρόσωπον δυνάστου.—παραβάται: the verb παραβαίνω precisely expresses the Hebrew עבר “to cross over”; cf. Romans 2:25; Romans 2:27; Galatians 2:18; Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 9:15, and see Matthew 15:2-3. To cross over the line which marks the “way” is to become a transgressor.9. but if ye have respect to persons] The Greek gives a compound verb which is not found elsewhere, If ye be person-accepting.

ye commit sin] The Greek is more emphatic, “It is sin that ye are working, being convicted by the Law.” However generally decorous their lives might be, yet through this one offence they failed to meet the requirements of the Law. The way in which they dealt with rich and poor was, in the strictest sense of the term, a crucial test.Jam 2:9. Προσωποληπτεῖτε, ye have respect to persons) The respecting of persons does not love all alike.—ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε, ye commit sin) Your whole proceeding is sin. For, in Jam 2:10, has reference to this.—ἐλεγχόμενοι, convinced, convicted) on account of your having respect to persons, and thus incurring conviction.Verse 9. - And are convinced, etc.; better, with R.V., being convicted by the law (ἐλεγχόμενοι ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου). The Law of Moses directly forbade all respect of persons; see Leviticus 19:15 (three verses above the passage just quoted by St. James), Οὐ λήψῃ πρόσωπον πτωχοῦ οὐδὲ μὴ θαυμάσῃς πρόσωπον δυνάστον. Ye have respect to persons (προσωπολημπτεῖτε)

Only here in New Testament. See on James 2:1.

Ye commit sin (ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε)

Lit., "work sin." Compare Matthew 7:23; Acts 10:35; Hebrews 11:33. The phrase is rather stronger than the more common ἁμαρτίαν ποιεῖν, to do sin, John 8:34; James 5:15; 1 Peter 2:22. The position of sin is emphatic: "it is sin that ye are working."

And are convinced (ἐλεγχόμενοι)

Rather, as Rev., convinced. The word, which is variously rendered in A. V. tell a fault, reprove, rebuke, convince, while it carries the idea of rebuke, implies also a rebuke which produces a conviction of the error or sin. See on John 8:46. Compare John 3:20; John 8:9; 1 Corinthians 14:24, 1 Corinthians 14:25.

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