The Book of James Bible Study

| Book of James Bible Study | Introduction to James | Themes in James | James and Jesus | About the Author |
James 2

The Christian's Brethren

Dealing with the Rich

Theology of Money

Faith That Works - James 2:14-26

Faith Without Works

Abraham's Faith

The Righteous Life God Desires - James 2:19-25

Righteous Live by Faith

New Heart of the New Covenant

The Christian's Brethren

Discrimination is one of the great social tensions of our times. All sorts of people
band together, in order to exclude others from enjoying their special privileges. Sometimes the discrimination is based on race or color. Other instances reflect a favoritism arising from differences in religion, sex, age, wealth, or culture. Jim Crow laws, ghettos, and policies of certain clubs or neighborhood associations usually involve some kind of prejudice against persons who appear to be "different" from the rest. Even people's personal habits that seem offensive to others can trigger responses of discrimination and deny equality of opportunity or fairness of treatment.

Such unkind conduct may not be too surprising in a world where selfishness and the protection of one's own interests are the guiding principles. However, a higher standard is expected from those who profess the Christian faith. James has been asserting that proper religious faith has an outward demonstration. The Christian creed must be followed by Christian conduct. Furthermore, Christian conduct is not restricted to a few technical religious acts (for instance, baptism, communion, church attendance) but also the display of godliness and love in every aspect of life, as guided by the Word of God.

In first century Palestine, as in most of the empire, the rich were oppressing the poor. But the temptation to make rich converts or inquirers feel welcome at the expense of the poor was immoral. The language of impartiality was normally applied especially to legal settings, but because “synagogues served both as houses of prayer and as community courts, this predominantly legal image naturally applies to any gatherings there.

Jewish wisdom stressed that those who respected God should not show “favoritism” toward people. Moralists and satirists mocked the special respect given to the wealthy, which usually amounted to a self-demeaning way to seek funds. In Rome the senatorial class wore gold rings; some members of this class sought popular support for favors shown to various groups. But rings were hardly limited to them; in the eastern Mediterranean gold rings also marked great wealth and status. Clothing likewise distinguished the wealthy; who could be flamboyant, from others since peasants commonly had only one cloak, which would thus often be dirty.

Jewish legal texts condemn judges who make one litigant stand while another is permitted to sit; these hearings normally took place in synagogues (2:2). To avoid partiality on the basis of clothing, some second-century rabbis required both litigants to dress in the same kind of clothes.

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Unsealing Revelation

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