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James 2:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Are ye not then partial - Ου διεκριθητε· Do ye not make a distinction, though the case has not been heard, and the law has not decided?

Judges of evil thoughts? - Κριται διαλογισμων πονηρων· Judges of evil reasonings; that is, judges who reason wickedly; who, in effect, say in your hearts, we will espouse the cause of the rich, because they can befriend us; we will neglect that of the poor, because they cannot help us, nor have they power to hurt us.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Are ye not then partial in yourselves? - Among yourselves. Do you not show that you are partial?

And are become judges of evil thoughts - There has been considerable difference of opinion respecting this passage, yet the sense seems not to be difficult. There are two ideas in it: one is, that they showed by this conduct that they took it upon themselves to be judges, to pronounce on the character of men who were strangers, and on their claims to respect (Compare Matthew 7:1); the other is, that in doing this, they were not guided by just rules, but that they did it under the influence of improper “thoughts.” They did it not from benevolence; not from a desire to do justice to all according to their moral character; but from that improper feeling which leads us to show honor to men on account of their external appearance, rather than their real worth. The wrong in the case was in their presuming to “judge” these strangers at all, as they practically did by making this distinction, and then by doing it under the influence of such an unjust rule of judgment. The sense is, that we have no right to form a decisive judgment of men on their first appearance, as we do when we treat one with respect and the other not; and that when we make up our opinion in regard to them, it should be by some other means of judging than the question whether they can wear gold rings, and dress well, or not. Beza and Doddridge render this, “ye become judges who reason ill.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 475

Ministers should not use flattery or be respecters of persons. There ever has been, and still is, great danger of erring here, of making a little difference with the wealthy, or flattering them by special attention, if not by words. There is danger of “having men's persons in admiration” for the sake of gain, but in doing this their eternal interests are endangered. The minister may be the special favorite of some wealthy man, and he may be very liberal with him; this gratifies the minister, and he in turn lavishes praise upon the benevolence of his donor. His name may be exalted by appearing in print, and yet that liberal donor may be entirely unworthy of the credit given him. His liberality did not arise from a deep, living principle to do good with his means, to advance the cause of God because he appreciated it, but from some selfish motive, a desire to be thought liberal. He may have given from impulse and his liberality have no depth of principle. He may have been moved upon by listening to stirring truth which for the time being loosed his purse strings; yet, after all, his liberality has no deeper motive. He gives by spasms; his purse opens spasmodically and closes just as securely spasmodically. He deserves no commendation, for he is in every sense of the word a stingy man, and unless thoroughly converted, purse and all, will hear the withering denunciation: “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.” Such will awake at last from a horrible self-deception. Those who praised their spasmodic liberalities helped Satan to deceive them and make them think that they were very liberal, very sacrificing, when they knew not the first principles of liberality or self-sacrifice. 1T 475.1

Some men and women make themselves believe that they do not consider the things of this world of much value, but prize the truth and its advancement higher than any worldly gain. Many will awake at last to find that they have been deceived. They may have once appreciated the truth, and earthly treasures in comparison with truth may have appeared to them valueless; but after a time, as their worldly treasure increased, they became less devotional. Although they have enough for a comfortable sustenance, yet all their acts show that they are in nowise satisfied. Their works testify that their hearts are bound up in their earthly treasure. Gain, gain, is their watchword. To this end every member of the family participates in their labor. They give themselves scarcely any time for devotion or for prayer. They work early and late. Sickly, diseased women and feeble children whip up their flagging ambition and use up the vitality and strength they have to reach an object, to gain a little, make a little more money. They flatter themselves that they are doing this that they may help the cause of God. Terrible deception! Satan looks on and laughs for he knows that they are selling soul and body through their lust for gain. They are continually making flimsy excuses for thus selling themselves for gain. They are blinded by the god of this world. Christ has bought them by His own blood; but they rob Christ, rob God, tear themselves to pieces, and are almost useless in society. 1T 476.1

They devote but little time to the improvement of the mind, and but little time to social or domestic enjoyment. They are of but little benefit to anyone. Their lives are a terrible mistake. Those who thus abuse themselves feel that their course of unremitting labor is praiseworthy. They are destroying themselves by their presumptuous labor. They are marring the temple of God by continually violating the laws of their being through excessive labor, and yet they think it a virtue. When God calls them to account, when He requires of them the talents He has lent them, with usury, what can they say? What excuse can they make? Were they heathen who know nothing of the living God, and in their blind idolatrous zeal throw themselves under the car of Juggernaut, their cases would be more tolerable. But they had the light, they had warning upon warning to preserve their bodies, which God calls His temple, in as healthy a condition as possible that they might glorify Him in their bodies and spirits, which are His. The teachings of Christ they disregarded: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” They let worldly cares entangle them. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” They worship their earthly treasure, as the ignorant heathen does his idols. 1T 476.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 550

The managers of the sanitarium should not be governed by the principles which control other institutions of this kind, in which the leaders acting from policy, too often pay deference to the wealthy, while the poor are neglected. The latter are frequently in great need of sympathy and counsel, which they do not always receive, although for moral worth they may stand far higher in the estimation of God than the more wealthy. The apostle James has given definite counsel with regard to the manner in which we should treat the rich and the poor: 4T 550.1

“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 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: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 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?” 4T 550.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 133

South Lancaster, Massachusetts,

October 16, 1890

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 125

“If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” TM 125.1

This is the word of the living God. The law is God's great moral looking glass. He is to compare his words, his spirit, his actions, with the word of God. If we decide that in these last days we have no work assigned to us that is out of the common course of the nominal churches, we shall meet with great disappointment. The great question to be investigated, weighed, and decided is, What can I do to reach souls that are lost? God calls for a work to be done by Seventh-day Adventists that I need not define. Unless the work is first done in their own hearts, all the specific directions that might be given to point out their course of action will be labor in vain. TM 125.2

Read the second chapter of James. Practice the truth in your daily life and you will know the work that the Lord has given you to do. Read also the fourth chapter, especially verses 5-12; and chapter 5, especially verses 13-20. These chapters are a dead letter to the larger number of those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists. I am directed to point you to these scriptures, and to the seventh chapter of Matthew. You need to study every word as for your life. TM 125.3

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