James 2:1: Regarding the Rich and the Poor, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. 2:8) the Lord of glory, with (Lev. 19:15; Deut. 1:17; 16:19; Prov. 24:23; 28:21; Matt. 22:16; Jam. 2:9; Jude 16) respect of persons.

[My brethren] As in James 1:2, 16 (Grotius). The language of brethren indicates equality and love, and is against Respect of Persons (Gomar).

[Have not, etc., μὴ ἐν προσωποληψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης] What the Apostle delivered in James 1:26, 27, he here resumes and treats more fully in chapters 2 and 3, but in inverse order; the prior in the prior part of this chapter, and the latter in the latter part of this chapter and in chapter 3 (Gataker). You will not easily find προσωποληψίας, respect of persons, in the plural number, among the more elegant Greek Writers. But our Writers often make unusual Plurals out of words usually Singular (Grotius). Πρόσωπον properly denotes face, or countenance (Gomar, Gataker), as in Matthew 6:16, 17;[2] James 1:23[3] (Gataker); and thence, by Synecdoche (Gomar), man (Gomar, Gataker), as in 2 Corinthians 1:11;[4] then, a man’s parts or qualities, external or internal, which, no less than the face, do we see on a man; τὰ κατὰ πρόσωπον, things after the face or outward appearance. Hence προσωποληψία, as in Romans 2:11;[5] Ephesians 6:9;[6] Colossians 3:25;[7] and πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν, Luke 20:21;[8] Galatians 2:6;[9] and εἰς πρόσωπον βλέπειν, Matthew 22:16[10] (Gataker). Now, this is said, 1. in a good sense, as in Genesis 19:21;[11] 1 Samuel 25:35;[12] 2 Kings 3:14[13] (Gomar, Gataker); 2. in a bad sense, as when the person is set over against the cause (Gataker), as in Leviticus 19:15;[14] Deuteronomy 1:17;[15] etc. (Gomar); Proverbs 18:5;[16] 24:23;[17] or, when it is conjoined with the injury, or contempt, of the other, as it is here (Gataker). There is προσωποληψία in Judges, when the Judge regards things other than what are in the merits of the case, as we mentioned on Matthew 22:16; in the matter of the Gospel it is to prefer some to others on account of those things that pertain not at all to the Gospel (Grotius). [Thus they render the words:] Not in (or, with [Erasmus, Beza, etc.]) the acceptation of persons (or, of a face [Beza, Piscator]) have ye (or, hold ye fast [Tremellius out of the Syriac]) the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory (Montanus, thus the Vulgate), or, glorious (Beza, Piscator, etc.), or, on account of esteem (Calvin). The language of δόξης/glory is to be connected, either, 1. with προσωποληψία, respect of persons; it does not mean glory, but opinion, so that the sense might be, Have not the faith of the Lord…in discrimination of persons, so that according to his own estimation each might esteem any other, as he is great, or humble, or related, etc. (Erasmus). But this is forced, and too far separates the Gentivie from its governing noun, contrary to the custom of the Greeks (Estius). Indeed, δόξα sometimes signifies opinion (Beza, Estius), yet not, as I suppose, in the Apostolic writings (Estius). Or, 2. with Κυρίου/Lord (Beza, Vorstius, a great many in Estius). To whom this epithet is attributed in 1 Corinthians 2:8 (Estius, Piscator). This agrees with the intention (Estius, similarly Beza). For, if Christ is the Lord of glory, he that is nearer to Christ is to be more honored by us (Estius). And hence it is προσωποληψία, respect of persons, because we do not consider what the glory of Christ may be (Beza). But to this relation of government is opposed the Pronoun ἡμῶν/our, depending upon the Noun Κυρίου/Lord (Piscator). Or, 3. with πίστιν/faith (Piscator, Vorstius, Grotius, Gataker). There is a Trajection in the syntax (Vorstius, thus Piscator), which was common enough in these writers, by which those Genitives, τοῦ Κυρίου, etc., are governed by the Noun πίστιν/ faith (Piscator). Thus the Syriac also rightly construes it, τὴν πίστιν τῆς δόξης τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, the faith of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (Grotius, thus Hammond). Πίστις δόξης, The faith of glory, is used just as the faith of Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:22; Philippians 3:9, the faith of the Son of God, Galatians 2:20, which elsewhere is faith in Christ, as in 1 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 3:15 (Grotius). Faith of the glory of Christ he here calls (Piscator), faith concerning the glory of Christ, or concerning Christ exalted unto the highest renown (Grotius, similarly Piscator, Hammond), namely, because of obedience (Grotius); and, through a Synecdoche of member, all the other things to be believed concerning Christ, since they are presupposed by that heavenly glory, as the extreme end of the work of redemption (Piscator); or, Christian faith, or the profession it it, whereby we accept as true the incarnation of Christ, and all things that follow upon it, all which are signified by the phrase, the glory of Christ, to which we said that the Shekinah also pertains (Hammond). Why could you not also take it in this way, the glorious faith of our Lord Jesus Christ? Thus His faith and glory are aptly set over against the mean and impoverished condition of the brethren (Gataker). Ἔχετε, have ye, here is the same as κατέχετε, detain ye. Therefore, this means, That faith, which ye have concerning the glory of Christ, detain ye not as if captive and inoperative, because of that respect of qualities, which pertain not at all to the substance of Christ (Grotius). Others: Ἔχειν here means to profess, as in 1 Timothy 1:19;[18] 3:9;[19] 2 Timothy 1:13;[20] 3:5[21] (Gataker). To have this faith with respect of persons is to esteem professors of the faith, not as they are Christians, but as they are rich or poor (Hammond). Either, in those things which are characteristic of Christians, or in Christian gatherings and affairs (Grotius); or, in the places and assemblies of Judgment (for συναγωγὴ/ synagogue/assembly[22] signifies an assembly of Judgment, whether civil, or Ecclesiastical [Hammond]), to act with respect of persons (Estius, thus Hammond). [The sense:] Since ye are Christians, have not a discrimination of persons (Vatablus). With the acceptation of persons conjoin ye not the faith of Christ (Menochius), neither suppose ye that the latter is able to consist with the former (Menochius, similarly Calvin). Esteem ye not anyone according to worldly matters, but only according to spiritual goods (Zegers).

Have not; profess not yourselves, and regard not, or esteem not in others. The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ; i.e. faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; not the author but the object of faith is meant, as Galatians 2:20; 3:22; Philippians 3:9. The Lord of glory; Lord not being in the Greek, glory may be joined with faith, (admitting only a trajection in the words, so frequent in the sacred writers,) and then the words will run thus, the faith of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. the faith of his being glorified, which by a synecdoche may be put for the whole work of redemption wrought by him, which was completed by his glorification, as the last part of it; or, by a Hebraism, the faith of the glory, may be for the glorious faith. But the plainest way of reading the words is (as our translators do) by supplying the word Lord just before mentioned; Lord of glory, (Christ being elsewhere so called, 1 Corinthians 2:8,) i.e. the glorious Lord; as the Father is called the Father of glory, Ephesians 1:17, i.e. the glorious Father: and then it may be an argument to second what the apostle is speaking of; Christ being the Lord of glory, a relation to him by faith puts an honour upon believers, though poor and despicable in the world; and therefore they are not to be contemned. With respect of persons; the word rendered persons signifies the face or countenance, and synecdochically the whole person; and, by consequence, all those parts or qualities we take notice of in the person. To respect a person is sometimes taken in a good sense, Genesis 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:35. Mostly in an evil, when either the person is opposed to the cause, we give more or less to a man upon the account of something we see in him which is altogether foreign to his cause, Leviticus 19:15, or when we accept one with injury to or contempt of another. To have, then, the faith of Christ with respect of persons, is to esteem the professors of religion, not for their faith, or relation to Christ, but according to their worldly condition, their being great or mean, rich or poor; this the apostle taxeth in the Hebrews to whom he wrote, that whereas in the things of God all believers are equal, they respected the greater and richer sort of professors, because great or rich; so as to despise those that were poor or low. The Greek hath the word plurally, respects, which may intimate the several ways of respecting persons, in judgment or out of judgment. This doth not exclude the civil respect we owe to magistrates and superiors upon the account of their places or gifts; but only a respecting men in the things of religion upon such accounts as are extrinsical to religion; or, with prejudice to others as considerable in religion as themselves, though inferior to them in the world.

[1] Greek:  ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωποληψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης.

[2] Matthew 6:16, 17:  “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:  for they disfigure their faces (τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν), that they may appear unto men to fast.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face (τὸ πρόσωπόν σου)…”

[3] James 1:23:  “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face (τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γενέσεως αὐτοῦ) in a glass…”

[4] 2 Corinthians 1:11:  “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons (προσώπων) thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”

[5] Romans 2:11:  “For there is no respect of persons (προσωποληψία) with God.”

[6] 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 (προσωποληψία) with him.”

[7] Colossians 3:25:  “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done:  and there is no respect of persons (προσωποληψία).”

[8] Luke 20:21:  “And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person (λαμβάνεις πρόσωπον) of any, but teachest the way of God truly…”

[9] Galatians 2:6:  “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me:  God accepteth no man’s person [πρόσωπον θεὸς ἀνθρώπου οὐ λαμβάνει]:)  for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me…”

[10] Matthew 22:16b:  “Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man:  for thou regardest not the person (οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον) of men.”

[11] Genesis 19:21:  “And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee (נָשָׂ֣אתִי פָנֶ֔יךָ; ἐθαύμασά σου τὸ πρόσωπον, in the Septuagint) concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.”

[12] 1 Samuel 25:35b:  “Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person (וָאֶשָּׂ֖א פָּנָֽיִךְ׃; καὶ ᾑρέτισα τὸ πρόσωπόν σου, in the Septuagint).”

[13] 2 Kings 3:14:  “And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah (כִּ֗י לוּלֵ֛י פְּנֵ֛י יְהוֹשָׁפָ֥ט מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָ֖ה אֲנִ֣י נֹשֵׂ֑א; ὅτι εἰ μὴ πρόσωπον Ιωσαφατ βασιλέως Ιουδα ἐγὼ λαμβάνω, in the Septuagint), I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.”

[14] Leviticus 19:15:  “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment:  thou shalt not respect the person of the poor (לֹא־תִשָּׂ֣א פְנֵי־דָ֔ל; οὐ λήμψῃ πρόσωπον πτωχοῦ, in the Septuagint), nor honour the person of the mighty (וְלֹ֥א תֶהְדַּ֖ר פְּנֵ֣י גָד֑וֹל; οὐδὲ θαυμάσεις πρόσωπον δυνάστου, in the Septuagint):  but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”

[15] Deuteronomy 1:17a:  “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment (לֹֽא־תַכִּ֙ירוּ פָנִ֜ים בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֗ט; οὐκ ἐπιγνώσῃ πρόσωπον ἐν κρίσει, in the Septuagint); but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man…”

[16] Proverbs 18:5:  “It is not good to accept the person of the wicked ( שְׂאֵ֣ת פְּנֵי־רָשָׁ֣ע; θαυμάσαι πρόσωπον ἀσεβοῦς, in the Septuagint), to overthrow the righteous in judgment.”

[17] Proverbs 24:23:  “These things also belong to the wise.  It is not good to have respect of persons (הַכֵּר־פָּנִים; αἰδεῖσθαι πρόσωπον, in the Septuagint) in judgment.”

[18] 1 Timothy 1:18, 19:  “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding (ἔχων) faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck…”

[19] 1 Timothy 3:8, 9:  “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding (ἔχοντας) the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”

[20] 2 Timothy 1:13:  “Hold fast (ἔχε) the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”

[21] 2 Timothy 3:2a, 5:  “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters…having (ἔχοντες) a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

[22] James 2:2:  “For if there come unto your assembly (συναγωγὴν) a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment…”

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