Setting

Having stressed the importance of practicing God’s word, James now cites partiality as a specific example to illustrate the need to let our actions be consistent with our belief in God’s word. In conclusion, James reminds us that since we will all stand before the judgment, our speech and conduct must always conform to God’s law of love.

Key Verse

(2:12)

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Outline

  • Judging with Evil Thoughts
  • Dishonoring Those Whom God Has Chosen
  • Law, Mercy, Judgment

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Go through the passage and list the reasons why partiality is wrong.

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    1. It is contrary to faith in Christ (1)
    2. It is based on evil thoughts (4).
    3. It dishonors what God honors and extols what God despises (5-7)
    4. It is a transgression of the law of love (8-9,11). 5. It disregards future judgment (12).

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Segment Analysis

  • 2:1-4

    1.

    Why is partiality incompatible with the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (1)?

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    If we truly honor the Lord Jesus Christ, we would also honor everyone He has created, especially our fellow believers, whom He has redeemed with His blood.

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  • 2a.

    What was the setting of James’ illustration?

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    Assembly of believers (2).

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  • 2b.

    Can partiality take place in the congregation of believers today? Cite some examples.

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  • 3.

    In what ways have you been guilty of partiality?

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  • 4.

    Those who show partiality become “judges with evil thoughts” (4). a. How does partiality make people “judges”? b. What “evil thoughts” lie underneath partiality?

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    a. Partiality involves judging others based on such external criteria as wealth, looks, or power.
    b. Injustice; pride; contempt for the poor and needy.

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  • 5.

    When we commit the sin of partiality, what does our partiality reflect about our values?

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    Our partiality shows that we place high values on material or physical possessions, such as wealth, education, power, or beauty.

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  • 2:5-7

    6a.

    What does verse 5 teach us about God’s salvation?

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    God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world (Lk 4:18; 1Cor 1:26-29), and to these who love Him, God has given them spiritual riches and the inheritance of His kingdom.

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  • 6b.

    What does this have to do with the discussion on partiality?

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    It is wrong to despise the poor because God has chosen them and given them the greatest wealth and the most honorable status. Despising them is despising God.

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  • 6c.

    Having been chosen by God, how have we become rich in faith?

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    We have become heirs of God’s glorious kingdom and have received abundant blessings in Christ (Lk 12:32; Eph 1:3; 1Pet 1:3-4).

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  • 7.

    What is James’ point in reminding the believers about the oppression and blasphemy of the rich?

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    Partiality is a serious offense against God, especially when we favor, admire, and flatter those who violate God’s command and blaspheme His glorious name.

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  • 8.

    With this passage in mind, compare God’s love and man’s love.

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    While God loves everyone equally regardless of their appearance or possessions (Acts 10:34; Gal 2:6), human beings tend to love only those who are rich, beautiful, and powerful.

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  • 2:8-13

    9.

    Why is partiality a transgression, according to 8 and 9?

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    It is contrary to the command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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  • 10.

    What is the underlying principle of the whole law?

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  • 11.

    What is the point of 10 and 11 regarding partiality?

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    Because God is the giver of the law, breaking even just one point of the law is an offense against God and His whole law. Thus, showing partiality is not just a minor offense. It makes us transgressors against God.

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  • 12.

    How does verse 12 serve as a reminder to you in your daily walk?

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  • 13.

    Take note of the word “for” in verse 13. How does the teaching in this verse help explain verse 12?

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    Verse 12 teaches us to speak and act with the future judgment in mind. Verse 13 reminds us of the severity of judgment on the unmerciful. Putting these two verses together, we understand that in order to be shown mercy at the final judgment, we must speak and act with mercy (Mt 5:7). Since partiality involves unmerciful treatment of the poor, this principle further reinforces the case against partiality.

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