Christian Basic Training
James, The Book Of

Chapter 2

Verses from the book of James & the rest of the Bible are in " Maroon "
All words of Jesus Christ are in " Red "
Greek words are in " Purple "
All words in " Bright Blue " are weblinks
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Last modified:
December 12, 2021

( originally written in 2010 )

Bible Teacher Russ Pickett

Bible Teacher Russ Pickett

Break Line

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons [ prosopolempsiais ].

        James now speaks to another subject that was then, and still is today, affecting the church and believers;  " Favoritism ".   The Greek word used here for " respect of persons " is " prosopolempsiais " { pros-o-pol-ape-see'-ah } which means " partiality, favoritism, respect of persons, snobbery ".   Kenneth Wuest translates this verse like this:

" My brethren, stop holding your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the glory,
in connection with an act showing partiality [ to anyone ]. "

        The Christian's of that time were showing favoritism toward some people at the expense of others.   As we will see in the next few verses they were showing favor to people based on " How Much They Had or Didn't Have ".   Does that sound like something that just may also be going on in today's Church ?

This brings up a personal story that effected me negatively for decades :

        When I was twelve years old I attended a local church that is part of a major denomination in our country.   I went to Sunday School and sang in the Junior Choir.   I heard all about the love of God and how he cares for everyone.

        Well we had two older men who were brothers in our little town that were also both alcoholics and they lived together.   They were some of the nicest people you'd ever meet and were kind to everyone.   One of the brothers passed away and the very next Sunday the other brother showed up in church.   Now he was in a suit and tie however they had both seen there better days.   But I was excited !   I thought that it was a great thing for him to be in church were he could find God's love.   But not everyone saw it that way.

        The Junior Choir, along with the minister, walked out of the service before everyone else did.   I rushed to take off my choir robe so that I could see him before he left and thank him for coming.   As I approached the front door two ladies were talking to the minister and I heard them say, " You have to make sure he doesn't come back here again.   Did you see how he was dressed.   We really don't want him coming to our church ".   Now being twelve it didn't really dawn on me who the ladies were talking about.

        I walked past them and went outside.   I saw the minister pull the man aside when he came out and say something to him.   He walked down the sidewalk and I smiled and said, " I'm sorry about your brother dying ".   He nodded and said " Thank you son ".   I then said, " It was nice to see you in church today.   I hope you will come back ".   He responded, " Thanks son but I won't be back.   You are probably the only one that thought it was nice that I was here ".

        He then turned and looked up at the minister standing in front of the church and then turned and left.  I was really confused ..... why didn't they want him to come back ? ..... Wasn't this the place he should be ?   As I was walking home I decided two things in my young mind:  First, I would never go back to that church again.   And second " that Christians were full of bunk !   I would never have anything to do with them ever again ".

        James states that as Christians we should have the same attitude toward all people that God has.   Paul also stated basically the same thing:

Romans 2:11

For there is no respect of persons with God.

Ephesians 6:9

And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening:  knowing that your Master also is in heaven;  neither is there respect of persons with him.

        One of the greatest sins that has plagued the Church's of Jesus Christ and the Christian is " respect of persons ".   Remember this as you go through your Christian walk on a daily basis:

  God " never " judges us based on race or color, but on our relationship to His Will.
     ( see Romans 2: 9-11 )

  God " never " judges us based on our station or position in life, but on our relationship to Him.  Are we His children, or are we unsaved ?
     ( see Ephesians 6: 8-9 )

  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees as " hypocrites " because they paid more attention to the " outside " of the person, the outward appearance, rather than to the soul.  A person like this is " not " a child of God !

  The Christian " belongs to Jesus ", and as such is to " run from satan's programs and follow only Jesus "
     ( see II Timothy 2: 19 )

  The Mark of the Christian is love, Christ's love, not prejudice and favoritism:

John 13:34-35

[ 34 ]  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;   as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.   [ 35 ]  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

  [ 2 ]  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;    [ 3 ]  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay [ lampran ] clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor [ ptocho ], Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:"

        When looking at the Greek for the first part of verse 2 we see that a better translation would be " a man with gold-rings " ( multiple ) instead of a man with one gold ring as translated.   There was a time when some Christian men refused to wear a gold ring because of this verse alone.   At this time in history many Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans considered rings as an indispensable article of attire.   Many wore more than one gold ring on a finger.   The more gold rings they wore the more prosperous they appeared.   They also, of course, wore " goodly apparel ", i.e. bright colored clothing.

        The Greek word used here by James for " gay " is lampran { lam-pros' } which means " splendid, magnificent, sumptuous, gorgeous ", and the word for " poor " is ptocho { pto-khos' } which means " to crouch, a beggar, poor, indigent ".

        We may not " literally " make the poor, minority, or disadvantaged person sit on the floor while we allow the better, more advantaged to sit on a pew  -  but sometimes as Christians we show prejudice in other ways:

  Even Paul was disregarded by some Churches until they saw his " letters ",  ( see II Corinthians 3: 1-5 )

  Education, race, nationality, social position, or employment should not be an issue in accepting someone as a brother or a sister in Christ.

        Remember, the rich man was cast into hell not because he was rich, but because his heart was hardened toward Lazarus and God. ( see Luke 16:20-26 )   People are cast into hell, not because of education, race, nationality, social position, or employment, " but because they have not been born again " !   ( see Revelation 22:14-15 )

        In verses 2 and 3, James gives us an illustration of the abuse that was taking place.   The point of this illustration was not that there were rich and poor people attending the same church, " but the way believers treated them ".   The rich person was given preferential treatment in speech and in seating.   But the poor person was treated rudely, and was told to sit on the floor.

        If you believe that these types of things only happened during this time in history you'd be wrong.   Visit an old historic church in the United States and you will see basically the same thing happening.   Many of the " rich men " would " buy " a pew at the front of a church, have his family name put on the pew, and insure that he and his family were some of the last folks walking down the aisle.   That way everyone would see them attending church.   Also many of the old churches have balconies.   The balconies were for either the slaves or poor people to use.   You would never find a " rich man " sitting in the balconey.

        "James is giving us a clear prohibition against preferential treatment of people based on economic, social or even racial status"   Favoritism takes many forms, and may not be just an issue of rich and poor.   Education, race, social position, or employment have all created the same problems within church bodies.   We all need to be aware of favoritism's influence upon our actions and attitudes.

Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts ?

        The term " Are ye not then partial in yourselves " seems to portray the wrong meaning of the original Greek.   In Vincent's study of the original Greek he noted that the constant sense of the verb in the New Testament gives the meaning of doubt instead of partial.   Therefore what James was saying here would be better interpreted as :

Do you not have doubts within yourselves about the " faith " of the poor,
" and " are your thoughts " not evil " because you are judging them ?

        If our faith doesn't make a difference in the way we treat people, " then our faith has made no significant difference at all ".  The world judges people by such standards, but God doesn't and we shouldn't be either.

I Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature;  because I have refused him:  for the LORD seeth not as man seeth;  for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

        In verse 5 we are reminded that God has chosen the poor.   James tells them to " hearken " or " pay attention " to this fact.   If they would have looked around for themselves this fact would have been oblivious.

        When James says that God has chosen the poor, he's not talking about the doctrine of election ( although it would be included in this ), but rather the poor are generally more open to receive the gospel because of their current conditions.   There is a humbling effect when you don't have much and have to accept help from others.   God has a special place in His heart for the poor because they have found hope in the gospel and have turned to it in great numbers ( Job 5: 15;  36:15;  Psa.9:18;  12:5;  14:6;  68:10;  69:33;  72:12-13;  102:17;  140:12;  Isa.11:4;  25:4 ).   While the poor may be poor in material things, they can be eternally rich in spiritual things.

And remember this from our Lord Jesus Christ:

Matthew 25:36-46

[ 36 ]  Naked, and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.    [ 37 ]  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee ?  or thirsty, and gave thee drink ?    [ 38 ]  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in?  or naked, and clothed thee ?    [ 39 ]  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee ?

[ 40 ]  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.    [ 41 ]  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:    [ 42 ]  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:    [ 43 ]  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in:  naked, and ye clothed me not:  sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

[ 44 ]  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee ?    [ 45 ]  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.    [ 46 ]  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:  but the righteous into life eternal."

[ 6 ]  But ye have despised the poor.  Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats ?    [ 7 ]  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?"

        In verses 6 and 7, James shows the foolishness of showing favoritism toward those who are rich.   First he says they have shamefully treated the poor among them, in order to show special honor to the very people who mistreat Christians the most.   James seems to be implying that the rich used the legal system for their own gain at the expense of those who were poor.   James' point in all this is simply, why show favoritism to people just because they are rich ?   John Calvin summed this up like this, " Why honor your executioners ? "

        The very people they looked up too were blaspheming ( speaking evil of ) the name of Christ by their mistreatment of the poor believers.  Christ addressed this in Matthew:

Matthew 25:40

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Break Line
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

        James now tells us that one reason why we shouldn't show favoritism is because of the " royal law ".   The " royal law " being " Love God and love thy neighbor as thyself ".   This is the supreme or ultimate Old Testament law found in Leviticus:

Leviticus 18:18

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.

Leviticus 18:34

But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself;  for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt:  I am the LORD your God.

Christ also spoke of the " royal law " in Matthew 22:34-40:

Matthew 22:34-40

[ 34 ]  But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.    [ 35 ]  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,    [ 36 ]  Master, which is the great commandment in the law ?

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

        The " royal law " for the believer is the law of love which is a moral law that still abides under the New Covenant.   We are to equally love all our neighbors ( poor, rich, and all those in between ) and love our God with all our hearts.

But if ye have respect [ prosopolempteite ] to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

        The Greek word used here for " respect " is prosopolempteite { pros-o-pol-am-pe-teh'-o } which means " to accept or respect the person of any nature, to pay regard to external appearance, condition, circumstances, to show partiality ".

        James notes here that if you " respect " or " show partiality " to a person simply due to external appearance, condition, or circumstances then you are a " transgressor " of the law of God and therefore commit a sin.   He does not mean here that we should not show people respect, but that we should not show them respect simply because of their external appearance, condition, money, fame or circumstances.

        So ..... do we respect a person simply because they are a TV star, Movie star, singer, politician, good in sports, rich, famous for other reason, etc. ?   " No ".   We can respect any of these people for what they do with their position in life ..... but not just because of their circumstance or position in life.   I'll give you an example in my own life:

        " Don Mattingly was an excellent first baseman for the New York Yankees before his retirement.   I respected him not because he was a good first baseman or that he was a very good hitter ..... I respected him because even though he was offered basically double the money he was making with the Yankees to switch teams in the last years of his career he decided that dedication to the team that had given him his career in the first place was more important than the money that the other team was offering.   ( I hope this makes sense ) "

[ 10 ]  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all:    [ 11 ]  or 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.

        In verses 9 through 11, we are told that when a believer shows favoritism it is a sin.   To break any part of the Law is to violate the will of God, and therefore it means we are guilty of sin.

        The great truth here is a man may be in many aspects a morally good man, yet he can spoil it all by one fault ( sin ).   While Christians are not under the Law that was given in the Old Testament, we are to still speak and act according to the law of love written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.   We violate this principle when we show favoritism.

Jesus calls the true believer to a life of love and obedience:

Matthew 19:16-26

[ 16 ]  And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life ?    [ 17 ]  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good ?   there is none good but one, that is, God:  but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

[ 18 ]  He saith unto him, Which ?  Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,    [ 19 ]  Honour thy father and thy mother:  and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

[ 20 ]  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up:  what lack I yet ?

[ 21 ]  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:  and come and follow me.    [ 22 ]  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:  for he had great possessions.

[ 23 ]  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.    [ 24 ]  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

[ 25 ]  When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved ?    [ 26 ]  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible;  but with God all things are possible.

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[ 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 concludes this section with a solemn warning.   The " law of liberty " ( the gospel ) frees us from the curse of the Law, " so therefore we should be free to love and obey willingly ".   This is the higher standard to which we will be held.   There is coming a time when believers will all give account for their actions at the Judgment Seat of Christ ( for reward or loss of rewards only - not loss of salvation ).

Romans 14:10

But why dost thou judge thy brother ?  or why dost thou set at nought thy brother ?  for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

II Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;  that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

        James is saying, since we know that we will all stand before the Lord, and we will all give an account for what we have said and done, then our behavior should reflect that.   Verse 13 carries the same idea that Christ taught in Matthew 7:1-2:

Matthew 7:1-2

Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:  and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

        Jesus was speaking to the issue of judging people based upon the standards they set ( not God's standards ), and if they did judge people by their own standards then God would judge them by their own standards.   The point is they couldn't live up to their own standards, let alone anyone else.   Likewise here in verse 13, those who replace God's standards with their own will be judged by the same amount of mercy they had shown to others.   A Christian's outward actions show clearly what is on the inside.   The person who shows mercy knows the mercy of God, but the person who shows no mercy knows nothing of real faith.

Pastor David Buffaloe noted the following two doctrines on his website:
" "
One of my brothers in Christ and a website worth following and exploring !

   The line is drawn between the Children of God  ~  ( believers and nonbelievers alike ) :

John 3:36

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    Unbelievers have two appointments  ~  one with death, the other with Judgment :

Hebrews 9:27

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

    All shall declare Christ as Lord, some willingly, while others are forced to this acknowledgment:

I Corinthians 15:24-28

[ 24 ]  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;  when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.    [ 25 ]  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.    [ 26 ]  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.    [ 27 ]  For he hath put all things under his feet.  But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.    [ 28 ]  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

   The Last Judgment is depicted :

Revelations 20:12-15

[ 12 ]  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;  and the books were opened:  and another book was opened, which is the book of life:  and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.    [ 13 ]  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it;  and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:  and they were judged every man according to their works.    [ 14 ]  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.    [ 15 ]  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

( The judgement noted above will occur " After " Jesus Christ's one thousand year reign on earth )

        Christians, as Children of God, are not only prone to Judgment before the Throne of Jesus for reward or loss, but are also disciplined as Children by the Father.

     Christian's in sin are punished because God loves them:

Hebrews 12:5-6

[ 5 ]  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:   [ 6 ]  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Revelation 3:19

 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:  be zealous therefore, and repent.

     Confession of sin removes the discipline:

I Corinthians 11:31-32

[ 31 ]  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.   [ 32 ]  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

     Stages of discipline:

  1.   Warning stage:

    James 5:9

    Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned:  behold, the judge standeth before the door.

    Revelation 3:20

    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

  2.   Intensified stage:  ( also see:  Psalms 38:1-14 )

    2 Thessalonians 2:11

    And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

  3.   Dying stage:

    I John 5:16

    If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.  There is a sin unto death:  I do not say that he shall pray for it.

    Revelation 3:16

    So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

     A backslidden state produces it's own punishment:

Psalms 7:14-16

[ 14 ]  Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.   [ 15 ]  He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.   [ 16 ]  His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

     There is no discipline in Heaven:

Revelation 21:4

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;  and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.

     Sins of the tongue produce a type of feedback discipline:

Matthew 7:1-2

[ 1 ]  Judge not, that ye be not judged.   [ 2 ]  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:  and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

May God Bless You


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Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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