Do not rich men oppress you - The administration of justice was at this time in a miserable state of corruption among the Jews; but a Christian was one who was to expect no justice any where but from his God. The words καταδυναστευουσιν, exceedingly oppress, and ἑλκουσιν εις κριτηρια, drag you to courts of justice, show how grievously oppressed and maltreated the Christians were by their countrymen the Jews, who made law a pretext to afflict their bodies, and spoil them of their property.
But ye have despised the poor - Koppe reads this as an interrogation: “Do ye despise the poor?” Perhaps it might be understood somewhat ironically: “You despise the poor, do you, and are disposed to honor the rich! Look then, and see how the rich treat you, and see whether you have so much occasion to regard them with any peculiar respect.” The object of the apostle is to fix the attention on the impropriety of that partiality which many were disposed to show to the rich, by reminding them that the rich had never evinced towards them any such treatment as to lay the foundation of a claim to the honor which they were disposed to render them.
Do not rich men oppress you? - Referring probably to something in their conduct which existed particularly then. The meaning is not that they oppressed the poor as such, but that they oppressed those whom James addressed. It is probable that then, as since, a considerable portion of those who were Christians were in fact poor, and that this would have all the force of a personal appeal; but still the particular thought is, that it was a characteristic of the rich and the great, whom they were disposed peculiarly to honor, to oppress and crush the poor. The Greek here is very expressive: “Do they not imperiously lord it over you?” The statement here will apply with too much force to the rich in every age.
And draw you before the judgment-seats - That is, they are your persecutors rather than your friends. It was undoubtedly the case that many of the rich were engaged in persecuting Christians, and that on various pretences they dragged them before the judicial tribunals.
South Lancaster, Massachusetts,
October 16, 1890Read in context »
It seemed to me, as these things were presented before me, that Satan had possessed such power to blind minds through a love of the world, that even professed Christians forgot, or lost all sense of the fact that God lives and that His angels are making a record of all the doings of the children of men; that every mean act, every small deal, is placed upon the life record. Every day bears its burden of record of unfulfilled duties, of neglect, of selfishness, of deception, of fraud, of overreaching. What an amount of evil works is accumulating for the final judgment! When Christ shall come, “His reward is with Him, and His work before Him,” to render to every man according as his works have been. What a revelation will then be made! What confusion of face to some as the acts of their lives are revealed upon the pages of history! 2T 160.1
“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? But ye have despised the poor.” “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” You may believe all the truth; yet if its principles are not carried out in your lives, your profession will not save you. Satan believes and trembles. He works. He knows his time is short, and he has come down in great power to do his evil works according to his faith. But God's professed people do not support their faith by their works. They believe in the shortness of time, yet grasp just as eagerly after this world's goods as though the world were to stand a thousand years as it now is. 2T 160.2
Selfishness marks the course of many. “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” 2T 161.1Read in context »
It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. The name was given them because Christ was the main theme of their preaching, their teaching, and their conversation. Continually they were recounting the incidents that had occurred during the days of His earthly ministry, when His disciples were blessed with His personal presence. Untiringly they dwelt upon His teachings and His miracles of healing. With quivering lips and tearful eyes they spoke of His agony in the garden, His betrayal, trial, and execution, the forbearance and humility with which He had endured the contumely and torture imposed upon Him by His enemies, and the Godlike pity with which He had prayed for those who persecuted Him. His resurrection and ascension, and His work in heaven as the Mediator for fallen man, were topics on which they rejoiced to dwell. Well might the heathen call them Christians, since they preached Christ and addressed their prayers to God through Him. AA 157.1
It was God who gave to them the name of Christian. This is a royal name, given to all who join themselves to Christ. It was of this name that James wrote later, “Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” James 2:6, 7. And Peter declared, “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” 1 Peter 4:16, 14. AA 157.2
The believers at Antioch realized that God was willing to work in their lives “both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. Living, as they were, in the midst of a people who seemed to care but little for the things of eternal value, they sought to arrest the attention of the honest in heart, and to bear positive testimony concerning Him whom they loved and served. In their humble ministry they learned to depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit to make effective the word of life. And so, in the various walks of life, they daily bore testimony of their faith in Christ. AA 158.1Read in context »
“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 125.3Read in context »