James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. (See also Jude 16.)

2 For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

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:

4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

5 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?

6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

7 Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

11 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.

12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.


MEMORY VERSE: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. —James 3:17


CENTRAL THOUGHT: One of the main hindrances to unity is an attitude of respect of persons. Applying the truths of brotherhood and Christian oneness will set us free from this common human tendency and bring about the equality among brethren that allows for the blessed and holy unity of the Spirit.




James 2:1 “Respect of persons”: partiality; personal favoritism. “The fault of one who when called on to requite or to give judgment has respect to the outward circumstances of men and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high-born, or powerful, to another who is destitute of such gifts” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). (See also word definition for Acts 10:34 on page 3.)

James 2:2 “A man with a gold ring”: “Those who valued themselves upon the richness and luxury of their dress, were accustomed to deck their fingers with a considerable number of costly and valuable rings, frequently wearing several upon one finger” (Benson Commentary). “Vile raiment”: sordid or dirty clothing.

James 2:3 “Ye have respect”: look on with favor; give special regard or special attention. “Footstool”: to subject; reduce under one’s power; place under one’s dominion.

James 2:4 “Partial”: to separate; make a distinction; discriminate. “Judges of evil thoughts”: evil-thinking judges.




The law of Moses contained several commands concerning respect of persons; some of them specific to matters of judging. Judges were not to honor the person of the mighty (Leviticus 19:15), and in the case of the captains who aided Moses in deciding cases between brethren, they were to listen to the “small as well as the great” (Deuteronomy 1:17).

Job, when speaking to his friends, admonished that God would reprove those who secretly had respect of persons in their hearts (Job 13:10). This lets us know that outwardly we may feel societal pressure to stand for “equal rights,” but within still have preferential attitudes, disdain for those we feel are “less than,” and desires to curry favor with those we feel have more importance.

In the book of Malachi, the priests and Levites of that time were reproved by the Lord for many things; for corrupting the law and causing people to stumble, for profaning the covenant, and for being partial in the way they handled the law (Malachi 2:9).

The Jews, then, were familiar with God’s laws concerning equal treatment of brethren. But with the establishing of His Church and the bringing in of the Gentiles, there were many hurdles as different groups of people were now brothers and sisters in Christ and members together of the same body. Paul, writing to Timothy about the proper treatment of young and older men and women, church elders, and widows, gave him a charge to honor and serve them “without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (I Timothy 5:21). Partiality: “It means literally the ‘inclination’ of the scales to one side or the other, and hence a ‘bias’ of the mind to one party or the other. The balance of justice in the hands of Timothy was to be equal” (Pulpit Commentary).

The Scriptures in our lesson were given by James, and this book is considered universal, not written to any specific congregation or city, but to believers everywhere. James does not refer to himself as being an apostle, but merely calls himself a “servant of God.”

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




1. Calling It What It Is: James said respect of persons is ______.

2. All Are Equal: Is any race, color, nationality, ethnicity, or economic status more important in God’s sight than another? Are any of them considered “less than” in His sight? What should be our response?

3. To-Do List: If you were the teacher of this lesson, what “homework” might you prescribe?




Preferential treatment of others for reasons of ethnic origin, wealth or social status has been a problem in every generation.

But this is our time; this is our day. We cannot fix the problems and mistakes of the past. We can, however, serve our generation. We can look deep into our own behaviors: our thoughts, motives, mental habits, traditions. Do we carry deep-seated resentment toward other groups of people? Do we prefer as friends those of our own color, social status, congregation or age group? How do we feel when someone from “another group” is given a place of honor, responsibility or power? Are we “surprised” when people we have inwardly considered somewhat “beneath us”—be honest!—turn out to be articulate, responsible, refined or truly spiritual? If certain people, groups or situations make us uncomfortable, have we explored the reasons why? Do we realize that groups of people right around us are treated unjustly or unfairly, yet remain silent and content to allow it to happen? What is our responsibility as saints of God as we consider that 11 a. m. Sunday morning is known as the most segregated hour in America? Have we ever prayed—earnestly prayed—or fasted about this situation? How willing are we to be a voice, a friend, a welcoming host, a comfortable guest, a true brother or sister to all?

These are questions for us all to consider. Lord, am I truly obeying the scriptures in our lesson today? Do I truly have a heart and spirit pure and free from respect of persons?

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



“Don’t you know that you are my favorite oldest son?” My mother has often used this remark with me, both as a child and even in adulthood, particularly when asking me to perform some favor. Through the years, I’ve heard her use a modified version with my other six siblings, being careful not to show favoritism to any of us, as both my parents always strove to be sensitive to exhibitions of partiality among their children. In fact, they did their best to establish that each of us was special and favored by assigning each one of us a day of the week on which we were given a special seat at the dinner table, received a special treat, and got to pray next to “Daddy and Mommy” during devotion. How each one of us cherished our special day, and the thought of begrudging each other the opportunity to feel loved and wanted never occurred to us.

However, throughout history, partiality has been a destructive force in tearing apart families, as well as bringing division among God’s people. It is also something that isn’t so easy to root out and is easily passed from generation to generation. Think of how the favoritism shown by Abraham to Isaac, who was the son of promise, appears to have led to Isaac favoring Esau over Jacob, who was less rugged and manly, while Rebecca favored Jacob in return. This in turn may have caused Jacob to love Joseph, the oldest son of his favorite wife, Rachel, above all his other many children, leading to generations of heartache and ruin, the affects of which are still evident in the world to this day.

It is good to know that God does not respect any person above another. No matter what our physical appearance, our intellect, our skin color, our gender, our family heritage, our age, or any other traits that distinctly identify us, our Creator loves and cares for each of us, and we are all special to Him!

Because of this, just as the Pharisee received no justification for commending himself over the Publican, the rank sinner who wasn’t anything like him, God will hold accountable those who consider themselves superior to others around them and don’t treat all of God’s creation with love and respect.

—Bro. Fari Matthews