James 2:1-13

James 2:1 (KJV)
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Respect - Partiality
Now James begins another practical aspect of Christianity. That is, that we as Christians are not to treat each other according to earthly wealth. This is done all over the world. (Jude 1:16 KJV) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. The false prophets in the early church pandered to the wealthy because they were able to have much sway over what is done in the church. By playing up to the influential, they were able to gain high places in the church.
The Bible is telling us that we are not to be of the same mindset, that we are to treat everyone on an equal basis. Social position is non-existent at the foot of the cross. Every one of God’s Elect possesses the same position regardless of worldly goods. It is God that gives people their wealth and no one should be treated differently because of their wealth or their poverty. In fact, sometimes those that are the poorest in physical goods are the wisest in their Christian walk.
(Lev 19:15 KJV) Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
(Deu 1:17 KJV) Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
James 2:2 (KJV)
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;
Assembly - Synagogue
Vile - Dirty or Filthy
Now James begins an example for the Christians in the church to follow. He begins by setting up a scenario that a rich man comes into the assembly, with all his fine clothes on and then in walks a very poor man with clothes that have a foul stench to them. This scenario is speaking specifically of the Christian church and this is the only time in Scripture that the word “synagogue’ is applied to the place of Christian meeting. It means “a bringing together or a gathering.” This is another indication that the book of James is a very early one as the assembly of the Saints was called the synagogue. This may be what Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 is alluding to concerning false Christians or unbelievers who pretend to be true believers.
(Rev 2:9 KJV) I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
(Rev 3:9 KJV) Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Christians in Scripture are referred to as true Jews or the spiritual Israel.
(Rom 2:28-29 KJV) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: {29} But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
James 2:3
And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
Ye have respect - “Look Upon”
Gay - Splendid (Luke 23:11 = Gorgeous Robe)
Both the poor man walks in and the rich man walks into the assembly and if your eyes look upon the man with the gay or splendid clothing first, you will ask him to sit in the best of places. However, the poor man comes in and he is told to stand or to sit under the footstool. Some places in the assembly may have had raised chairs that even the footstool was raised off the ground and the poor man may have been asked to sit under that. This very same practice has never ceased because rich men are treated better in the churches than poor men, even if the rich man is totally biblically ignorant.
James 2:4
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Partial in Yourselves - diakrinw - “Wavering” in James 1:6
Judges of evil thoughts - Favoritism is an evil method of making a judgment
Thoughts = reasoning
James is saying if you have judged the rich man more worthy to sit up front by reason of his wealth, then you have become a judge using evil motives and methods to make your decision. If one makes judgments by using sight and not further inquiry, then the decision is one of misleading notion, that just because the rich man can afford to dress better, he deserves the better seat. Exalting rich people in a church can seriously polarize the church. Quite frankly, I personally have never seen the wealthy do anything in a church except give orders. It is the poor people who teach, who help, who watch the nursery, who do the physical labor around the church, etc. We must make judgments according to the right ways such as a person’s commitment to Christ, their desire to see souls saved, their desire to be involved in some type of ministry, etc. That is the type of person who should have the good seats, if they want.
James 2:5 (KJV)
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?
James is now making a declaration that God has chosen those that are poor or destitute in worldly things to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the Kingdom. God did not choose poor people because they are poor, but because there are much more poor people in the world than rich people. The majority of the body of Christ comes from the poor section of the world. Normally with poor or little possessions a person can find humility a little bit easier. (Mat 5:3 KJV) Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Poor people are usually poor in that worldly, prideful spirit having had to face problems rather than pay someone to face them in their stead. Poor people also know how to maneuver their worldly goods and are able to finance the Great Commission. God has built His Kingdom on nickels and dimes. This is speculation but if you would compare, in the aggregate, what poor people give to fund the Gospel versus rich people, the amount given by the poor would probably supersede the wealthy bunch by a great margin.
(Mark 10:25 KJV) 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. God is not saying that a rich man cannot be saved because there have been some very wealthy people saved such as R.G. LeTourneau who has even built a Christian college. Now ask the question, who sustains the work of the Christian colleges and the vast amount of ministries out there? It is the poor people who send in their $5 and $10 donations. Some years ago, a broadcaster named Dr. Robert A. Cook had a radio program called “The Kings Hour.” He would speak for 15 minutes and then at the end he would give the address and zip code of the Kings College where he was President. It was 10510. In one broadcast he said, “did you notice that zip code, it is 2 10’s and a 5.” This is the level of what the poor people can easily afford to sustain the Gospel.
God also calls these people “heirs.”
(Rom 8:17 KJV) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. We will inherit eternal life. (Mat 25:34 KJV) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Those whom God has saved will inherit the kingdom of Heaven forever. The word “heir” in this verse carries with it the meaning of “owner or possessor.” That is interesting since Christians are also called the Children of God which means they are Princes and Princesses of Heaven. This means we do not only inherit Heaven as a home, but we are also going to be co-rulers (co-heirs with Christ) in Heaven. Whatever that rulership will be is a mystery right now, and that is good enough for me.
When my earthly father made out a will that upon his death, I am now the heir or owner of all his earthly goods. Now transfer that principle to what happened at Calvary. When Christ died, He transferred Heavenly co-ownership to all believers because of His sacrifice. What a powerful biblical reality! (Heb 9:15 KJV) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. “Inheritance” in the Hebrews verse is the same word, meaning “owner or possessor.”
James 2:6 (KJV)
But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Despised - dishonored or treated shamefully
Oppress - Exploit or dominate
As James continues the thoughts concerning the coddling of the rich and the dishonoring of the poor, he reminds these Christians that it is the rich people who are the ones who exploit them. The church was honoring the very ones who dishonored the Lord. Is this not being done today? A rich person can tie up a poor person in litigation until they are broke and then the rich person will get what they want. There is evidentiary information surfacing that suggests that the Salem Witch Hunts in 1692 was well-planned conspiracy by wealthy people in Salem Village to accuse certain people of Witchcraft and then as soon as they were taken to jail or executed, their land was sold to the highest bidder by the city.
It seems this church was really favoring the rich over the poor and it was to the point that the Apostle had to rebuke them. Many world religions favor the rich because of the money that they think they will get out of them. It must be understood that many rich people do not give unless they will receive certain favors in return. It is nothing more than bribery.  (Amos 5:12 KJV) For I know your manifold transgressions, and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. James wants to get these Christians back into right thinking that a person’s riches should play absolutely no part in decision making concerning the well-being of the church. A church that shamefully treats the poor does not represent the true Gospel.
James 2:7 (KJV)
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
Blaspheme - Speak evil of
Rich people will also decry Christianity and within that condemnation, there would be negative things to say about the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the same today, when you speak with wealthy people concerning true Christianity, they will denounce it. Many rich people go to church but there is a great difference between going to church and being a redeemed Christian. It is a shame when those who dishonored Christ the most were the most highly respected in the church. I attended a church like this in the early years of my Christian walk and the vilest unbelievers would always be honored for their “works.” The true believers in that church were denounced as holy rollers, fanatics, and jerks. Christianity teaches that a person should give their money in secret but that is not good for a rich person, as they want that notoriety just as the Pharisees did. (Mat 23:27 KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
James 2:8 (KJV)
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Fulfil - perform or complete
In fulfilling the Royal Law, you will have a true desire for others to have the same quality in things and life you desire for yourself. This is the essence of loving your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 14:13-14 KJV) But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: {14} And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. When churches have banquets or gatherings, the poor people should not be excluded simply because they are unable to pay. Compassion and generosity should be the earmark of a true church. Notice this is not just a law but is called the Royal Law. This means that this law is elevated among others. (Mat 22:39-40 KJV) 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. This is considered one of the two most greatest commandments.
James 2:9 (KJV)
But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
Convinced - “Having been convicted”
Transgressors - Literally means you have crossed the line
Now James gets right down to the heart of the matter. If these Christians are going to have an attitude of favoritism, then they are committing sin. The same principle is applicable in the church of today. If the leaders in a congregation, favor the wealthy, then they are sinning and God’s blessing is off that church. (Job 13:10 KJV) He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons. If a person is accepted secretly, like in private meetings, and this rich person pulls the strings in the church instead of the Elders, than that congregation can expect to fall under the chastisement of God. Favoritism in any church will pull it down. (1 Tim 5:21 KJV) I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. God strictly prohibits any type of preferential treatment to be given to any group. Every Christian is to be treated equally because this is how God views every Christian, and we do not have any right to adulterate that principle. (Exo 23:8 KJV) And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. The verse is basically telling us that if they adopt a method of favoritism, then they are already indicted and convicted by the Law. (Lev 19:15 KJV) Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
James 2:10 (KJV)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Here is probably one of the most ominous verses in the entire Bible. It speaks of those who wish to keep the law but if they offend in just one point, they become guilty of not keeping the whole law. The word “offend’ carries with it the meaning of “stumbling.” This verse is also a warning to the churches in that the Pharisees had a very bad habit of holding up one law as more important than the other. (Mat 23:23 KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Wait a minute, as Christians, don’t we do something similar? Do you have a red letter edition of the Bible? Are the words of Jesus in red? Why are the words of Jesus more important than the words of Habakkuk? They are not, because the whole Bible is the word of God.
Red letter editions set up a tier system, making the words of Jesus seem more important than the rest of the Bible. (2 Tim 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: This is what James is arguing against. There should be no tier system in any church when it comes to the law of God. We cannot pick and choose what we want to obey. We must see the entire Bible as the law of God and therefore we are not to treat some parts as less valuable than others. When we do that, we begin to set ourselves up as judges, and remember a few verses ago, what type of judges we are warned of becoming? Judges with impure or evil, selfish included, motives.
James 2:11 (KJV)
For 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.
It does not matter which law you break, you are still guilty of all. It does not matter which law you keep either, because you are still guilty of the ones you miss or break. God is the source of the law, and He has set certain standards which must adhered to. Now this also applies to those who are saved because the whole Bible is the law of God. Psalm 119 speaks heavily to this issue. The Bible also calls itself the “Law of faith.” (Rom 3:27 KJV) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. As Christians, we must never set aside the law as having no further impact upon our lives. The law of God is not kept for salvation, but is kept to be obedient to God. In the Romans verse we see that boasting is excluded because of the law of faith. No one can boast that they kept the law for salvation and no one can boast because of their salvation. The bottom line is, if you break the least of the commandments, you have become guilty of the entire law. That word “transgressor” carries with it the meaning of “violator or sinner.” This is exactly what James says. If the church practices favoritism, then they are sinning.


James 2:12 (KJV)
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Make sure your actions match your speech. The believers here had adopted a policy of favoritism but they needed to act like they would face judgment for their actions. As believers we need to use the Scriptures as our cudgel and guideline for our actions. As Christians, we will never face the judgment of God since all our sins have been paid for and removed. Yet, our actions need to be judged by us as if we are going to face a judgment for them. It is a great method to keep us on the straight and narrow. The law of liberty is the grace gospel. If we do not manifest the grace gospel in reference to the keeping of the law for obedience, then there is a good chance we are not saved. Most church bosses and power brokers are unsaved. Churches run by church bosses and power brokers lack or will lack spiritual authority leading to the death of that church and the removal of the candlestick. Therefore our motives for whatever we do must be out of truth and not hypocrisy which is sinning.
James 2:13 (KJV)
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy;
and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Here the unbelievers in the church will face the wrath of God on judgment day. One of the characteristics of salvation is gentleness and one of the traits of unbelief is harshness. There may have been attitudes in the early church concerning those who outwardly had sinned, and maybe mercy was not shown because they did not yet understand Grace with its compassions. The Royal Law showed compassion on all classes of people, but that does not mean they were to condone any type of sinful behavior. Merciless attitudes will yield merciless judgment. This may also be alluding to those leaders in the church who were breaking the Royal Law by adopting discipline for breaking the law, while they themselves were breaking laws they found insignificant. In the manner they doled out discipline, is the same way they will receive it.
Rejoiceth = “Triumphs Over” - Salvation triumphs over judgment. In the physical realm, qualified mercy always triumphs over harsh judgment