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Read Introduction to James


“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”



James amplifies the idea of our guilt under the law by committing the sin of discrimination (2:9). 

whoever shall keep the whole law,

The word “whoever” indicates that there is no exception to the following principle – any and every person is guilty.  This is a universal principle.  It applies to anyone anywhere. 

A person who “keeps the whole law” yet offends in one point is guilty of all.  Jesus is the only person to “keep the whole law.”  James uses the principle of keeping the whole law as an illustration. 

The word “whole” focuses on the entire unity of Scripture.  The Bible is a unity of truth not detached from the consistency of principle.  The law expresses the complete character of God.


The law is an expression of the complete character of God. 


No one can become a Christian by keeping the law.  If that were possible, there would be no need for the death of Christ to pay for our sins.

Ga 2:16-21, “…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

If we try to keep the law for salvation or sanctification, we put ourselves under a curse.  If we put our trust in the finished work of Christ, we accept the fact that God put Him under the curse.  Jesus met every demand of the law, yet God put Him under a curse to save our souls. 

Ga 3:10-13, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’  11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’  12 Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’  13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’”)…”