Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all


James 2:10 Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all?
This is hard to believe. For example, suppose that at work I make a Xerox copy of some personal item without the permission of my superior. This means that I have stolen something worth about five cents, because my superior has said that the Xerox machine is to be used only for official job related business and nothing else. So I have broken the commandment: Thou shalt not steal. But by making an unauthorized Xerox copy worth about five cents, I don’t see why I should be judged guilty of torture, murder or rape of innocent people. I did not do anything violent, so why am I guilty of raping and torturing an innocent woman?


Keeping the old covenant was an all or nothing proposition.

James point is that if one breaks a single command of the law, then one is guilty of breaking THE LAW, period.

James is NOT saying that you have literally broken each individual law…just that you are no longer innocent.

Thus, you cannot call yourself righteous, and you need Jesus.


As Randy Carson points out, you are not LITERALLY guilty of breaking every commandment; but since you broke the law, you are guilty. Further, according to Judaism, no one commandment is more important than any another (even though we, like Catholics, do have names for minor vs. major sins) since each single commandment reveals G-d’s will. Remember too that there are many positive commandments as well as negative ones: that is, behaviors that are required to do, as well as those which should be refrained from doing.


Well said.


…when one Commandment is broken all Commandments are broken because the Law is hinged upon: Love Yahweh God above all and your neighbor as yourself. The second a transgression is committed the Law of Love is broken since a transgression breaks with Love of God and neighbor–to love oneself a person must first Love God; yet, to Love God, a person must love his/her neighbor.

Maran atha!



When we do something like this (I have done it), we have to remember everything that is involved. Did we do it on company time? that’s worth more than 5 cents. And, a key thing to remember is that we were told not to do it. Where I worked once, we weren’t even supposed to operate the machine, period – that was a clerical job. So, no matter how you ultimately judge this matter based on other comments, put all your cards on the table. 5 cents might be trivializing the situation. there’s wear and tear on the machine too. did you ever see the cost of a toner cartridge?

Most machines have a counter, so the total number of copies made is stored in the machine. I’ve heard that the image of your original is stored in the machine, too. I heard about this in the context of people photocopying their income tax returns thinking that a machine in a public library could not be hacked. Some of the more sophisticated machines can be hacked.

If there’s one lesson in scripture, it is that sin has consequences.

In the first epistle of John, he says that if we say we are not sinning, we are deceiving ourselves.

The letter of James was written apparently to a Jewish Christian audience who would have already known this. His statement was a reminder. Thou shalt not steal is a commandment, period. We can’t deny that.

The classic example, or one example anyway, is the man caught collecting sticks on the Sabbath day, when work was not allowed. That’s pretty trivial, too, isn’t it? recall what happened? Moses went to God to ask what to do about this, and the man was put to death.

Is this story historical? Or, was it a parable, to deter people from working on the Sabbath, or in this case, as a deterrent against stealing? I think St. Paul says someplace in the New Testament writings not to test God. Or, was it Jesus who said not to put God to the test?


Well, there are other examples. Take for instance a teenager who, in the morning, does not make his bed properly but makes his bed hastily and sloppily against the wishes of his mother. He has disobeyed his mother who has told him to make his bed neatly and properly and therefore is guilty of breaking one commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother. But why should he be guilty of breaking all of them, for example, why should he be guilty of murdering hundreds of thousands of people in the genocide attacks in Rwanda or in the genocide attacks against the Christian Armenians? I don;t see where God would hold a teenager guilty of genocide and mass murder if all he did was to be disobedient by making his bed sloppily one morning.



…again, you are constructing (making things fit a purpose).

…if that same person buys a stolen phone he/she is guilty of the theft… by association… he/she is not guilty of every sin that other person committed or will commit unless he/she enables or procures it.

By willful disobedience of the Commandment to obey/honor his/her parents he/she is guilty of all the Commandments because we must adhere to all of the Commandments–not just pick and choose.

…during many conflicts there have been those who do not actively engage in them but provide financial, military, medical, and other forms of support (like remaining silent or seeking to bury the truth)… they are as guilty as those who actively engaged the conflicts… less your “teenager” promoted or supported the efforts of the genocide, why would you think that God would hold him/her responsible?

…that’s tantamount to blaming you (if you own a dog) for an attack that I may have suffered by a dog in my neighborhood–I would be more than just reaching!

Maran atha!



First you say he is “guilty of all the Commandments”, then you wiggle out by saying that God would not hold him responsible of genocide. It seems to me that either he is guilty of breaking the commandment Thou shalt not kill or not.



…let’s see…

There are two types of Commandments… the first deals with God/Worship and the second with behavior towards self and man.

Both types deal directly with Love of God and love of man.

Man is required to holdfast to all Ten Commandments.

When man transgresses against one Commandment he transgresses against all of the ten Commandments since he breaks his bond of Love of God and love of man.

You presume that when a person transgresses against a Commandment/s he/she is to be held responsible for all the unrighteous acts committed in the world.

I have attempted to dissuade you from such hyperbole/understanding.

Each man/woman is guilty of his/her own transgression/s (less he/she enables/coax others into the unrighteous act/s).

Maran atha!



See Randy Carson’s and meltzerboy’s replies earlier in the thread.


A verse can never be taken in literalist isolation.
Context is everything.

closed #13

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