The Royal Law; Love Others As You Love Yourself

The focus of the royal law is godly love or love that comes from God. It’s surprising that the KJV Bible only uses the phrase “the royal law” once, in James 2:8. What is it, then? In fact, this Bible lesson should help you find the answer.

Created: Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Royal Law; Love Others As You Love Yourself

sunset over the Wailua River state park in Wailua, HI for the royal law lesson. Live by the royal law; love others as you love yourself. From James 2:8 (Voice)

STM Bible Lesson – The Royal Law

Lesson focus: James 2:1-13 (8-9). Bible lesson background: James addresses judging and also showing favor based on the status of people. In particular, treating a wealthy person better than a poor person. He reminds us that rich people also treat us badly. However, we should love all people as well as we love ourselves.

So, to get the full message, take a look at James 2:1-13 using the Voice translation. Here, are the focus verses, 8 and 9:

Remember His call, and live by the royal law found in Scripture: love others as you love yourself. You’ll be doing very well if you can get this down. 9 But if you show favoritism—paying attention to those who can help you in some way, while ignoring those who seem to need all the help—you’ll be sinning and condemned by the law. James 2:8-9 (Voice)

What is the royal law?

If you are wondering, what is the royal law in the bible? Let’s see what the Bible says. Based on our focus scriptures, James 2:8-9, we should always love others as we love ourselves. In fact, James referred to Leviticus 19:18;

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (NLT)

That is just the start. Stay with me, as we explore the Bible for more.

By the way, Leviticus 19:33–34 contains a remark that is actually very similar. In fact, many of us could use this verse in 2022 all over the world.

When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat†† [oppress, mistreat, or do bad things to] them. 34 Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34 (CEB)

Yes, where the KJV used ‘stranger‘ the CEB {Common English Bible} used ‘immigrant‘. And other translations used foreigners or aliens. †† KJV – vex.
It is extremely helpful to study the Word of God using more than one translation. But that is a topic for another lesson or study.

Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever. Psalm 93:5 (NLT)

FYI, if you happen to find the term “royal law” in Daniel 6:7 in the (LITV) and (MKJV), it is not this royal law (decree or statute).

The law which is the king of all laws – love others as you love yourself

The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t”.* You can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself.**
10 You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love. Romans 13:9-10 (MSG)

* Exodus 20:13, 15, and 17; Deuteronomy 5:17, 19, and 21. ** Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39.

Testing Jesus about his law—how bold is that?

A lawyer (or expert in Moses’ law) from the Pharisees1 (social movement) asked a question to Jesus to put him to the test. NOTE: The three verses that follow are all taken from the Remedy translation. Thanks to e-Sword.
  • Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest of all the commandments of God’s Law?”
  • Mark 12:28 “Which of all God’s commandments is the most important?”
  • Luke 10:25 “Doctor, what is required for me to do in order to receive eternal life?”
1 The Pharisees are an ultra-religious group of Jews who according to many sources thought they were better than other Jews. In fact, Jesus, as stated in Matthew 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, and 29, called them ‘hypocrites’ (7 times).

A cool and calm response

NOTE: The three verses that follow are all taken from the Free Bible Version (FBV) translation. Thanks to YouVersion via
  • Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied, “‘Jesus told them, “‘Love the Lord your God in all you think, in all you feel, and in all you do.’*** 38 This is the greatest commandment, the first commandment. 39 The second is just like it, ‘Love your neighbor (others) as yourself.’**** 40 All biblical law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (FBV)
  • Mark 12:29-31 Jesus replied, “The first commandment is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your spirit, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is ‘Love your neighbor (others) as yourself.’ There’s no more important commandment than these.”
  • Luke 10:26 “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” asked Jesus. 27 “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and your whole spirit, and your whole strength, and your whole mind; and love your neighbor (others) as yourself,” the man replied.
    28 “You’re right,” Jesus told him. “Do this, and you will live.”
*** Deuteronomy 6:5. **** Leviticus 19:18.
NOTE: notice how Luke, unlike Matthew and Mark, says Jesus responded to the question with a question. So, the lawyer had to answer his own question.

More of what Jesus said…

If you love only those who love you, should you get any special praise for doing that? No, even sinners love those who love them! 33 If you do good only to those who do good to you, should you get any special praise for doing that? No, even sinners do that!

34 If you lend things to people, always expecting to get something back, should you get any special praise for that? No, even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount!

35 “I’m telling you to love your enemies and do good to them. Lend to people without expecting to get anything back. If you do this, you will have a great reward. You will be children of the Most High God. Yes, because God is good even to the people who are full of sin and not thankful. 36 Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy. Luke 6:32-36 (ERV)

Royal Law – commentators explain

    • Barnes says “It is called a “royal law,” or kingly law, on account of its excellence or nobleness; … that is, it is majestic, noble, worthy of veneration.”
    • Benson says “The law or precept, here spoken of was enjoined by Moses, but Christ carried it to such perfection, as it was to be practiced among his followers, and laid such stress upon it, that he called it a new commandment, John 13:34; and his commandment, John 15:12.”
    • Utley said “This concept goes by several names:
      • “the perfect law of liberty” James 1:25.
      • “the law of liberty” James 2:12.
      • “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:2.
      • “the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2.
    • It obviously points back to the Ten Commandments (cf. James 2:11) but reaches into the inaugurated New Age of Jesus’ teachings, a new way of treating God and our covenant partners (cf. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7).”

Leviticus 19:11-18

Benson’s “Enjoined by Moses” refers to Leviticus 19:18, but let’s keep it in context and read Leviticus 19:11-18.

“Do not steal or tell lies or cheat others. 12 Do not misuse my name by making promises you don’t intend to keep. I am the Lord your God. 13 Do not steal anything or cheat anyone, and don’t fail to pay your workers at the end of each day. 14 I am the Lord your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble.
15 Be fair, no matter who is on trial—don’t favor either the poor or the rich. 16 Don’t be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone’s life. 17 Don’t hold grudges. On the other hand, it’s wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18 Stop being angry and don’t try to take revenge. I am the Lord, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.” Leviticus 19:11-18 (CEV)

The Golden Rule*

Actually, what some refer to as “the golden rule” is very much like “the royal law”. In fact, they complement each other. See for yourself.

* The term “Golden Rule”, or “Golden law”, began to be used widely in the early 17th century in Britain by Anglican theologians and preachers; [7] the earliest known usage is that of Anglicans Charles Gibbon and Thomas Jackson in 1604. [8]
Matthew’s version
In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NIRV)
Luke’s version
Treat people the same way you want them to treat you. Luke 6:31 (NASB)

1 John 4:8 and 16 says “God is love”; this God who is love does not have favorites, He loves us all the same. If we claim to be ‘Christ-like’ we must show love by the way we treat others—. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” that is from Luke 6:31; i.e., treat others the way you want to be treated.

Final thoughts

But now [i.e., since the temporary gifts are to pass away], these three things remain: faith, hope and love; and the most important of them is love. 14:1 You should make loving [others] your aim, yet eagerly desire [to possess] spiritual gifts, and especially [the gift of] prophecy. 1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1 (AUV)

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1 (KJV)

In the New Testament, however, agape was frequently used to mean something more distinctive: the unconditional, self-sacrificing, and volitional love of God for humans through Jesus, which they ought also to reciprocate by practicing agape love towards God and among themselves. The term agape has been expounded on by many Christian writers in a specifically Christian context. —New World Encyclopedia

Jesus gives the new (royal) law

I give you a new law: Have love one for another; even as I have had love for you, so are you to have love one for another. John 13:34 (BBE)

Is the royal law all about love or charity (as used by the KJV translators and many others)? The royal law—love is ἀγάπη agapē ä-gä’-pā love. 1 Corinthians 13 helps us understand why love is the supreme/royal law. Speaking in tongues, prophesying, knowledge, great faith, charitable giving, and martyrdom are nothing without love—love that never ends—it is the greatest of all things. God demonstrated this love—His royal law by giving us His son so that we can have eternal life.

Remember to love others as we love ourselves! I pray that you have enjoyed and will make the most of this Bible lesson. Blessings to you and your loved ones— Tim. ☺

Scriptures to read and study

NOTE: the key verses are in parenthesis. James 2:1-13 (8-9 and 12). Leviticus 19:1-37 (18 [Matthew 19:16-22 (19); Mark 12:28-34 (31); Luke 10:25-37 (39)]. And 33-34 [Exodus 22:16-313 (21); Deuteronomy 24:5-22 (14); Ezekiel 22:1-16 (7) and 23-31 (29); and Jeremiah 7:1-27 (6), 22:1-10 (3)].

Luke 6:27-36 (31-36); John 13:31-35 (34) and 15:9-17 (12); James 1:21-27 (25); Romans 8:1-11 (2); Galatians 6:1-5 (2). Matthew 7:7-12 (12) and 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:5 (13:13-14;1).

Related studies/lessons/snacks for further Spiritual growth:

See what is available on the Sound Truth Ministry website.

Question for ‘The Royal Law; Love Others As You Love Yourself’: Are you showing love to others?


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