One of the changes that the Holy Spirit brings about in the lives of true believers is that He causes them to take their thoughts and desires (which would usually be focused on themselves)
and place them upon other individuals. ‘Loving our neighbour as we love ourselves’ means that our desire is for those around us to receive and experience the goodness, kindness, promises and blessings of G-d. As the Holy Spirit enables us, we begin to behave in a way so as to be a G-dly influence to others. In this chapter there is an emphasis upon faith working in a person’s life and producing the G-dly desired outcomes that every believer should display.
v1: Brethren: As already seen…this is an inclusive term meaning ‘brothers and sisters’. It is a term that relates to fellow believers – disciples of Messiah Yeshua.
· L-rd: The fact that Yeshua is L-rd should be a reality for every believer. This means that we live under the recognition of His authority in our lives – His will, His thoughts, His desires need to become ours. We need to obey Him.
· faith … glory: When we walk in faith, demonstrating the L-rdship of Messiah in our lives, that faith is going to be a faith of glory. Biblically there is a relationship between the glory of G-d and the presence of G-d. So, when we walk faithfully, putting into practice the truth and will of G-d, demonstrating His authority over our lives, the outcome is that G-d is going to enter into that situation in a unique way and the outcome is that He is going to be glorified, His glory is going to be manifested. This is how we are called to live.
· Partiality: Treating someone better than someone else for the wrong reason.
Note: what James is saying here is that if we hold our faith with a degree of partiality/show favouritism (preferring one and rejecting or dishonouring the G-d-given worth that G-d has given to all human beings) we are going to be compromising our faith, and the glory of G-d is not going to be manifested. This is something that is not pleasing to G-d.
v2: For if: James gives a hypothetical example of what he means by showing partiality.
· Your assembly/synagogue: In early times, gentiles, coming to faith, would go into the synagogues in order to hear the Word of G-d being read – it was read every Sabbath. There they would encounter the revelation or commandments of G-d.
· Fine apparel: Magnificent, expensive clothing.
· Filthy: Can be possibly translated ‘shabby’. These clothes have no magnificence or splendour.
v3: Pay attention/Look upon: The well-dressed man has great attention paid to him.
· Good place: A favourable place, a place of preference. A seat of distinction.
· Sit here….stand there: The poor man is told to stand there (He is not even given a chair), the well-dressed man is told to sit here – in the place of preference.
· At my footstool: In Greek this word can mean ‘on’ or ‘under’. The poor man is probably being told that he can sit under the footstool – meaning, on the ground. The attitude being displayed here is that the poor man can be near, but he needs to sit on the ground.
v4: Shown partiality: Made a distinction. This person has judged something on their own, without any revelation from G-d.
· Shown partiality among yourselves: G-d has not given them revelation or commanded someone to say these things or behave in this manner -showing partiality. The Scripture reveals to us that G-d is not a respecter of people. He doesn’t have favourites (Acts 10:34, Matt 5:45) G-d doesn’t treat one better than someone else (Thank goodness!). His laws equally apply to everyone.
Note: G-d can call people for different purposes. He can bless someone more than other because they display a greater responsibility for G-d’s will.
· Thoughts: Having a perspective of. They are thinking in an evil way (The Biblical definition of evil would be: thinking or doing that which is not in line with the character of G-d).
v5: My beloved brethren: Even though James has said some harsh words, scolded them (in the flesh, stained by sin, it is natural for us to show partiality. This does not make it good or right. G-d has provided the Holy Spirit to us – He can enable us to change this aspect of our sinful, human nature), he wants them to know that he loves them.
· Chosen: Election, or being elected, in the Scripture is simply the word for being chosen. That selection doesn’t come in a vacuum. It always has to do with the purpose of G-d.
· The poor of this world…rich in faith: James is laying out a principle here. Those who are poor financially have the potential, in Christ, to be rich spiritually. Many people think money is going to solve their problems. It may be, though, that your money is a hindrance to your spirituality. Being poor, being in need, can lead one to depend upon G-d. When we don’t have the resources or the ability to provide what we need then we are more likely to trust G-d.
· Love: Love, oftentimes, is based upon a relationship of need. Children love their parents as a natural outcome of the fact that they realise their need for their parents. The
parents instil love into their children as they lovingly provide for them. Likewise, when we exercise faith in G-d He moves to allow us to be a recipient of His kindness, goodness and provision. This in turn leads us to appreciate or love G-d.
v6: You: James is talking about those who show partiality.
· Dishonoured: Disvalued someone who is G-d’s creation – someone made in the image of G-d.
· Courts: Because of their wealth, the rich people are the ones who are more able to utilize the judicial system to oppress people.
v7: They: Speaking about those who are wealthy in this world. There are always exceptions, but there’s a tendency when one is wealthy to trust in wealth and in ones own resources rather than in the things of G-d.
· The noble (good) name: The good name spoken of here is the name of Yeshua.
· By which you are called: The name of Yeshua has been placed on us. We did not place it upon ourselves, it was placed on us. This was an act of G-d. G-d has given us His name. We belong to Him. We are part of the family of G-d – not just because we were created by Him, but because of this unique relationship we have with Him.
v8: Royal law: Kingdom law. Kingdom law causes us to display the character of the Kingdom.
· Love your neighbour as yourself: This is what we’re supposed to demonstrate. It is foundational. If we cannot love our neighbour as ourselves there’s a spiritual problem in our lives. We haven’t understood the love of G-d. We haven’t received His love in the way that we should have. We are not demonstrating the truth of G-d in our lives.
v9: But: This is in contrast to the one who’s displaying this royal law.
· Commit sin: This is what happens when we demonstrate a preference for one over another. When we show partiality, failing to recognize that everyone is a creation of G-d, we fail to receive them with the proper honour, kindness and goodness that G-d’s displayed toward us.
· Convicted: Reproved. This is a word of disapproval. It’s a word of condemnation and it can be a word of punishment.
· By (under) the law: This is a term of judgment. Many people, when they are saved, incorrectly assume that the law no longer has any relevance for them. This is false. The law (Old and New Testament) still has relevance for our lives. When we are told that ‘we are no longer under the law’ this means that we are not going to be condemned/judged by the law (the condemnation – and death – was paid for us by Yeshua – who showed no partiality, but died for all – John 3:16-21)
As believers, therefore, we are not under the punishment of the law but are set free to utilize/apply the truth, the revelation, of the law to our lives. In this way we can “fulfil the righteousness requirements of the law”(Rom 8:1-11).