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Ben Mattson
Seminarian at Bethlehem College and Seminary, Minneapolis, MN
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James 2
James 2:1-26
Shared June 11th, 2020; Updated June 12th, 2020
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James 2:1-13
My brothers and sisters, 1 do not show prejudice 2 if you possess faith 3 in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 4
Ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης.
My brothers, do not in partiality hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ of glory.
For if someone 5 comes into your assembly 6 wearing a gold ring and fine clothing,
ἐὰν γὰρ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ,
For if a man should come into your assembly with a gold ring in splendid clothing,
and a poor person enters in filthy clothes,
εἰσέλθῃ δὲ καὶ πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι,
but also a person should come poor in filthy clothing
do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed
ἐπιβλέψητε δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν φοροῦντα τὴν ἐσθῆτα τὴν λαμπρὰν
and you look upon with favor upon the wearing the bright clothing
and say, 7
καὶ εἴπητε •
and you say,
“You sit here in a good place,” 8
σὺ κάθου ὧδε καλῶς,
"You sit down here in a fitting place,"
and to the poor person,
καὶ τῷ πτωχῷ εἴπητε •
and to the poor you say,
“You stand over there,”
σὺ στῆθι
"You stand
or “Sit on the floor”? 9
ἢ κάθου ἐκεῖ ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιόν μου,
or you sit here upon your footstool,"
If so, have you not made distinctions 10 among yourselves
καὶ οὐ διεκρίθητε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς
do you not make distinctions among yourselves,
and become judges with evil motives? 11
καὶ ἐγένεσθε κριταὶ διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν;
and become a judge of evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! 12
Ἀκούσατε , ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί•
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters,
Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith
οὐχ ὁ θεὸς ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ πλουσίους ἐν πίστει
Did God not chose the poor of the world (“poor with respect to those material goods which the world considers wealth) to be rich in faith
and heirs of the kingdom
καὶ κληρονόμους τῆς βασιλείας
and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?
ἧς ἐπηγγείλατο τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτόν;
which was promised to those loving him?
But you have dishonored the poor! 13
ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠτιμάσατε τὸν πτωχόν.
But you dishonor the poor.
Are not the rich oppressing you
οὐχ οἱ πλούσιοι καταδυναστεύουσιν ὑμῶν
Do not your rich ones dominate
and dragging you into the courts?
καὶ αὐτοὶ ἕλκουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς κριτήρια;
and you drag you into court?
Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to? 14
οὐκ αὐτοὶ βλασφημοῦσιν τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς;
Do they not blaspheme the good name by which you are called?
But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, 15
Εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν•
Nevertheless if you carry out the royal law according to the scripture:
“ You shall love your neighbor
ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου
"Love your neighbor
as yourself ,” 16
ὡς σεαυτόν,
as yourself,"
you are doing well.
καλῶς ποιεῖτε •
You are doing good.
But if you show prejudice,
εἰ δὲ προσωπολημπτεῖτε ,
But if you show partiality,
you are committing sin
ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε
you are committing sin
and are convicted by the law
ἐλεγχόμενοι ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου
being convicted by the law
as violators. 17
ὡς παραβάται.
as transgressors (violators).
For the one who obeys the whole law
ὅστις γὰρ ὅλον τὸν νόμον τηρήσῃ
For whoever should keep the whole law
but fails 18 in one point
πταίσῃ δὲ ἐν ἑνί,
but stumbles in one,
has become guilty of all of it. 19
γέγονεν πάντων ἔνοχος.
becomes guilty of all.
For he who said,
ὁ γὰρ εἰπών •
For he who said,
“ Do not commit adultery ,” 20
μὴ μοιχεύσῃς ,
"do not commit adultery,"
also said,
εἶπεν καί•
also said,
“ Do not murder .” 21
μὴ φονεύσῃς •
"do not murder."
Now if you do not commit adultery
εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύεις
Now if you do not commit adultery
but do commit murder,
φονεύεις δέ ,
but murder
you have become a violator of the law.
γέγονας παραβάτης νόμου.
you become a violator of the law.
Οὕτως λαλεῖτε
So speak
and act
καὶ οὕτως ποιεῖτε
and so do
as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. 22
ὡς διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι .
as ones about to be judged by the law of liberty.
For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy.
ἡ γὰρ κρίσις ἀνέλεος τῷ μὴ ποιήσαντι ἔλεος•
For judgment is merciless to the one not showing mercy.
But mercy triumphs over 23 judgment.
κατακαυχᾶται ἔλεος κρίσεως.
Mercy boasts against/exults over judgment.
Condemns distinctions within the assembly... of Christians! What are the evil motives in 2:4? Is it the "tendency of basic human nature to favor those who we profit from the most?" Would this cause us to not speak up for injustices. because it isn't conveinent for us to and it doesn't benefit ourselves? 2:5 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of God. 26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. 27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 29 so that no one can boast in his presence. 30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “ Let the one who boasts , boast in the Lord .” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NET The gospel leaves no room for partiality or favoritism. ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 2:6 How do these blaspheme Jesus's name? The Messiah? 2:8 Those who have much are tempted to want more and more and look out for themselves at the expense of others. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Could partiality even be treating someone better because they may be of a lower status? Does it mean that we just treat everyone equal? In some sense, we are supposed to lift up the poor and the oppressed... those who have need. Let this love be genuine though. If we do it from a legalistic standpoint, we are hypocrites. Lord have mercy. In the church we are to treat all as equals, not showing partiality in order to benefit ourselves. We have all shown partiality and are violators of the law. Have we murdered? Have we been angry with our brother or attacked his character? Certainly. We aim to tear down others made in the image of God for our benefit. Have we committed adultery? Or envied what isn't ours? Certainly. We are greedy people who want what we don't have and are unthankful to God for what he has given each of us. Our hearts are often unsatisfied in him and we look to other things. I wonder if this is where much or partiality comes from. Is James saying..."Oh, you haven't been unjustifiably angry with someone? Well what about being greedy and envious for what isn't yours, objectifying the image of God? Are both of these an attack on the image of God? The former in tearing down and devaluing, and the latter sinfully elevating something and putting hope in having it in order to be satisfied ? Thus, we should speak (do not tear down the image of God, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God) and act (do not envy what is not ours and have unsatisfied hearts always looking for the next thing) as those who will be judged by the gospel, for there is no partiality with the Lord. We are freed from obeying commands to earn something. His commands are not burdensome for those who love him. Why should we do this? Because there are those who have not received the mercy of God, but we have. Their state compared to ours is a miserable one. So, having internalized God's mercy toward us, we should extend mercy to others that they may know the mercy of God. And also we are to remember, as we look into the mirror of the gospel in the word, and do not forget who we truly are, but remember that we are sinners, we can be exuberantly grateful for the gospel and for God's mercy toward us in Christ Jesus. Live as those who have received and internalized God's mercy for us. Mercy boasts against judgment! Judgment does not have the last say. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! For the law of the Spirit has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh in order the the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. “Once faith understands the salvation God works, that the divine mercy has overcome the divine justice, faith must include a stance of mercy toward others.” 104 God’s judgment is inexorable, “but where there is evidence of merciful deeds, God’s attribute of mercy triumphs over the dictates of his justice, and the balance is tipped in man’s favour.” 104 Richardson, James , 126. Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, James , vol. 16, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 120.
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