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Session 2: Open Arms

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Background

It’s only natural we gravitate towards people who know us and like us, and have similar values. The problem becomes when we get so comfortable in these relationships we grow in a tendency to ignore or overlook those who don’t fit the standards for our inner circle.
The letter of James is one of the earliest epistles dating back to just roughly 20 years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Known as James the Just, the half-brother of Jesus wrote his letter likely with little knowledge of Paul’s writings. In the second chapter, James deals with the issue of favoritism towards the rich over the poor.
Let’s start with
James 2:1–4 ESV
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
4

Partiality is an act of evil

When we show favoritism, what are we saying about the equality of people in God’s eye? Compare ; ;
Romans 2:11 ESV
11 For God shows no partiality.
Ephesians 6:9 ESV
9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
Colossians 3:25 ESV
25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
Deuteronomy 1:17 ESV
17 You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’
As a church, what do we need to stop doing to show no favoritism and what do we need to start doing?
It is exactly this regard to external circumstances against which St. James is warning his readers; and the fact that our Lord had himself been known, when on earth, as no respecter of persons (), would give point to his warning. The plural (ἐν προσωποληψίαις) is perhaps used to include the different kinds of manifestations of the sin.
It is exactly this regard to external circumstances against which St. James is warning his readers; and the fact that our Lord had himself been known, when on earth, as no respecter of persons (), would give point to his warning. The plural (ἐν προσωποληψίαις) is perhaps used to include the different kinds of manifestations of the sin.
2:1–13 The Sin of Partiality. The problem of the poor and the rich, already emphasized in 1:9–11, 27, now comes to center stage with this warning about discriminating against the poor in favor of the wealthy in the Christian assembly.
2:1–7 Preferring the Wealthy over the Poor in the Assembly. James shows the fundamental incompatibility of holding faith in Christ and showing partiality among people.
2:1 partiality as you hold the faith. There is no place for prejudice in the life of faith. “Partiality” combines a group of terms signifying “to accept/judge according to face” and refers to favoritism shown on the basis of status in society. Jesus, according to James, is the exalted and glorious Lord and Christ, and is always to be thought of as such.
2:1. This verse commends Jesus as our glorious Lord Jesus Christ and warns that partiality against the poor is inconsistent with faith in Jesus Christ. My brothers shows that James wrote to his readers as believers and urged them to show the reality of their profession. Who is this Jesus?
Luke 20:21 ESV
21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.
First, Jesus is the object of our faith. We have made a trust or commitment to him. We are believers in Jesus.
Second, Jesus is the Lord of Glory. The Greek literally reads, “our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Glory.” James gave the title of “Glory” to Jesus, using a term that represents the full presentation of God’s presence and majesty. Jesus is the glorious God. This is a remarkable confession to come from Jesus’ half brother.
The practice of favoritism involved giving benefits to people who had outward advantages such as money, power, or social prominence. The readers of James were courting the favor of these important people by showing preference for them over the poor. The Mosaic Law had forbidden giving respect to persons of prominence (). To these scheming readers James gave a sharp directive, “Stop it!”
Ver. 1.—The translation is doubtful, two renderings being possible. (1) That of the A.V. and R.V., “Hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (2) That of the R.V. margin and Westcott and Hort, “Do ye, in accepting persons, hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory?” According to this view, the section commences with a question, as does the following one, ver. 14. According to the former view, which is on the whole preferable, it is parallel to ch. 3:1. The faith of our Lord. “The faith” here may be either (1) objective (fides qua creditur), as in the Epistle of St. Jude, 3, 20; or (2) subjective (fides qua creditur), “Have the faith which believes in,” etc. (cf. ). Our Lord Jesus Christ. Exactly the same title occurs in , in the letter written from the Apostolic Council to the Syrian Churches—a letter which was probably drawn up by St. James himself. The Lord of glory. The same title is given to our Lord Jesus Christ in , and seems to be founded on , etc. The genitive, τῆς δόξης, must depend on Κυρίου, in spite of the intervening Χριστοῦ. Similar trajections occur elsewhere; e.g. , where δικαιοσύνγς depend, on καρπόν and, according to a possible view, (see Hort’s ‘Greek Testament,’ vol. ii., appendix, p. 56). Bengel’s view, that τῆς δόξης is in apposition with Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ can scarcely be maintained, in the absence of any parallel expression elsewhere. Respect of persons (ἐν προσωπο ληψίαις); literally, reception of faces. The substantive is found here and three times in St. Paul’s Epistles—; ; ; the verb (προσωποληπτεῖν) only here in ver. 9; προσωπολήπτης in . None of them occur in the LXX., where, however, we find πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν in ; , etc. (cf. ), for the Hebrew נְשָׁא פָנִים. Bishop Lightfoot has pointed out (‘Galatians,’ p. 108) that in the Old Testament, the expression is a neutral one, not necessarily involving any idea of partiality, and more often used in a good than in a bad sense. “When it becomes an independent Greek phrase, however, the bad sense attaches to it, owing to the secondary meaning of πρόσωπον as ‘a mask,’ so that πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν signifies ‘to regad the external circumstances of a man’—his rank, wealth, etc.—as opposed to his real intrinsic character. Thus in the New Testament it has always a bad sense.” It is exactly this regard to external circumstances against which St. James is warning his readers; and the fact that our Lord had himself been known, when on earth, as no respecter of persons (), would give point to his warning. The plural (ἐν προσωποληψίαις) is perhaps used to include the different kinds of manifestations of the sin.
When we make distinctions between persons, what are we doing?
Those who make such distinctions show themselves to be judges with evil thoughts. Christians are not to “judge” each other (; ; ), and to do so can only mean one’s mind is consumed with evil “thoughts” (Gk. dialogismos, which can mean “opinions,” “reasoning,” or “conclusions”).
Matthew 7:1–5 ESV
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Romans 14:4 ESV
4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
1 Corinthians 5:12 ESV
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
How does fit into our discussion?
Shabby, used to describe the poor man’s clothing, pictured clothing which was dirty or filthy. The man may have come from work, his clothing stained with the evidence of his labor.
The handsome apparel of the rich man earned special treatment for him (v. 3). The greeter gave him a place of special honor. The soiled clothing of the poor man earned indifference to his comfort or feelings. He received the options of standing in some undesirable place or sitting on the floor near the greeter. The greeter showed no concern for his needs.
Verse 4 uses a question to accuse the readers of a pair of evil actions. An affirmative answer is expected. They had indeed discriminated and become evil judges.
First, they discriminated among themselves. They were guilty of creating divisions in their midst despite the fact that they had accepted the abolition of class distinctions (see ). Second, they acted like evil-minded or prejudiced judges, regulating their conduct by blatantly false principles.
Galatians 3:28 ESV
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Verse 4 uses a question to accuse the readers of a pair of evil actions. An affirmative answer is expected. They had indeed discriminated and become evil judges.
First, they discriminated among themselves. They were guilty of creating divisions in their midst despite the fact that they had accepted the abolition of class distinctions (see ). Second, they acted like evil-minded or prejudiced judges, regulating their conduct by blatantly false principles.
Move on to
In 1982, the Rev. Nico J. Smith, professor of theology at the elite Stellenbosch University in South Africa, left his post to become pastor of a one-thousand-member church in Mamelodi, a black township outside Pretoria. He took a substantial salary cut, moved into a modest home in a whites-only section near his church, and began to relate to his congregation. Concerning the abrupt transition and change of lifestyle, Smith said, “I feel I am starting my life over again. I have a wonderful opportunity to get to know the black people, their hopes and their fears.”
Nearly six years later Smith presided over a visit by 173 whites, who came to his church in Mamelodi to live for four days among the blacks. They slept in cramped homes, washed at backyard faucets, and tried to build bridges between the races. Concerning the visit, Smith said, “The whites of this country have got to see what pain there is under the black skin.”
James 2:5–7 ESV
5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
Smith’s efforts represent an attempt to show that the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to people of all groups and backgrounds. His boldness and courage can help to overcome the evil results of the practice of partiality and discrimination.
Vers. 2–4.—Proof that they were guilty of respect of persons. Observe the insight which this passage gives us into the character of the assemblies of the early Christians, showing (1) that the entrance of a rich man was not entirely unknown, but (2) that it was probably exceptional, because so much was made of him. Notice (3) συναγωγή used here, and here only in the New Testament, of a Christian assembly for worship (cf. Ignatius, ‘Ad Polyc.,’ c. iv., Πυκνότερον συναγωγαὶ γινέσθωσαν). (On the distinction between συναγωγὴ and ἐκκλησία, and the history of the terms and their use, see an interesting section in Trench’s ‘Synonyms,’ p. l.

Partiality neglects God’s heart

Ver. 2.—A man with a gold ring (ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος). The word is found here only. The English Versions (both A.V. and R.V.) needlessly limit its meaning. The man was probably bedecked with a number of rings, and had not one only. In goodly apparel. The same phrase is rendering “gay clothing” in ver. 3. The variation is quite unnecessary, the Greek being identical in both places, and rightly rendered by R.V. “fine clothing.” It is curious to find a similar needless variation in the Vulgate, which has in veste candida in ver. 2, and veste prœclara in ver. 3.
VERSE 3
Why would the poor be rich in faith? Why does Scripture often speak ill of the rich? (see ; ; ;
VERSE 4
“It shows doubt to act as though Christ had never promised his kingdom to the poor, rich in faith; and wicked reasonings to argue mentally that the poor must be less worthy of honour than the rich.” Judges of evil thoughts (κριταί διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν) sc. their own (thoughts), which caused them to respect persons. Thus the phrase is equivalent to “evil-thinking judges.” (On the genitive, see Winer, ‘Gram. of N. T. Greek,’ p. 233; and cf. ch. 1:25, ἀκροάτης ἐπιλησμονής.)
Partiality is contrary to God’s plan and threatening to the best interests of believers. James contrasted God’s exaltation of the poor with their abuse by his readers. Their practice of discrimination against the poor was contrary to the way God had purposed to treat them.
2:5. The rich rely on their money (), but the poor of this world become wealthy or rich in faith. To be heirs of the kingdom may be equivalent to entering and enjoying the kingdom at the end of the age. Others understand the phrase to mean that faithful believers will receive a position of authority in the future world (; ; ; ). For those who love Him, see 1:12.
1 Corinthians 1:26–29 ESV
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
2:5 chosen … to be rich in faith. Using the language of election, James declares that the poor have a special place in God’s economy of salvation. They are rich in an eternal sense because they are heirs of the kingdom (cf. “poor in spirit, … theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” ).
1cor
2:5–6a. Partiality is contrary to God’s plan and threatening to the best interests of believers. James contrasted God’s exaltation of the poor with their abuse by his readers. Their practice of discrimination against the poor was contrary to the way God had purposed to treat them. Verse 5 shows how God views the poor. Verse 6a presents the contrasting practices of his readers. It is clear: Christians need to adopt God’s outlook for the poor.
God chose the poor. Paul used “chose” to describe the election of believers to salvation (). In “chose” describes spiritual blessings God has reserved for the poor. God chose the poor to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him.
Ephesians 1:4 ESV
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
James 2:5 ESV
5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
The world may look on poverty-stricken people as insignificant and worthless. God sees them as abounding in the riches of faith. Their faith allows them to experience God’s wealth—salvation and its accompanying blessings. This does not suggest all the poor are converted, nor does it mean God practices a bias against those who are not poor. The poor God blesses are those whose poverty is primarily to be “poor in spirit” (). Often those who are economically poor are better placed than the wealthy to understand God’s purposes. They are more likely than the rich to be prospects for conversion.
The kingdom is the full manifestation of Christ’s future kingdom at the end of the age. The poor may appear insignificant in this world, but they have the glorious hope of inheriting the kingdom with Jesus (see ). God loves the poor more than their treatment by Christians indicates.
James 2:6 ESV
6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
What makes preferential treatment so dangerous?
Can grace exist side-by-side with favoritism?
Verse 6a outlines the church’s treatment of the poor. They had insulted the poor by asking them to stand in some uncomfortable location or to sit on the floor as the Christians gathered for worship. Such shabby treatment could convince the poor that Christianity was not for them.
Ver. 5.—Hearken (ἀκούσατε). This has been noticed as a coincidence with the speech of St. James in . It is, however, too slight to be worth much (cf ; ; ). For τοί κόσμου τούτου, read τῷ κόσμῳ (אm, A, B1, C1), “poor as to the world;” perhaps “in the estimation of the world.” These God chose (to be) rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, etc. The kingdom; mentioned here only by St. James (and even here, א1 A read ἐπαγγελίας) cf. νόμον βασιλικόν in ver. 8.Which he hath promised. As Dean Plumptre has pointed out, “it is scarcely possible to exclude a direct reference to the words of Christ, as in ; , ; and so we get indirect proof of a current knowledge, at the early period at which St. James wrote, of teaching which was afterwards recorded in the written Gospels.”
VERSE 6
2:6–7. James asked how the readers could have dishonored the poor since (1) God Himself honors the poor (1:6), (2) the rich force believers into court with false charges, and (3) the rich blaspheme the fair name of Jesus (1:1; 2:1) held so dear by Christians.
2:6–7 oppress you. This oppression, or exploitation, reflects a situation of radical social polarization in the first century, with merchants and landowners taking land and possessions from the poor (cf. 5:1–6).
James challenges his Christian readers as to why they would honor the rich in the assembly when it is the rich unbelievers of the world who blaspheme the name of Christ. drag you into court. As frequently recorded in the OT (e.g., ; ; ), the wealthy often used the court system to steal from the poor. This situation was the primary reason for the revolts in Galilee that led to the war of A.D. 66–70.
Amos 4:1 ESV
1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’
Habakkuk 1:4 ESV
4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
Malachi 3:5 ESV
5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
2:6b–7. The actions of the Christians did not help their own interests. They were pursuing a path of folly. Their treatment of the rich and the poor resembled honoring an executioner while insulting a valued friend. The rich faced three charges.
Second, the rich hauled believers into court and practiced judicial persecution. Notice the actions of the wealthy slaveowners who dragged Paul and Silas into court in .
Third, they belittled the Lord Jesus by insulting his person and rejecting his claims. The Jews of Antioch showed this behavior in . These whom the church welcomed were not Christians but wealthy, Christ-rejecting Jews. The readers of James belonged to Jesus, and their biased actions dishonored his honorable name.
Can we suggest a better way to respond to the poor? Several years ago unemployment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, suburbs reached the heights of skyscrapers. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the suburb of Sewickley began a service called Help Offer People Employment (HOPE). It was a temporary job service for those experiencing layoffs. In its first year the service received 1,200 calls for food, housing, child care, and money. They found work for 130 people, and nine found permanent jobs.
Later the church developed Job Seekers, a course for the unemployed dealing with regaining dignity and self-esteem. Participants learned to use resumes wisely and to present their skills in an appealing way. Some fifteen to twenty clients accepted Christ. The pastor of the church said, “Social action is part of evangelism. What’s great is when Christians tackle those issues with the love of Jesus, but with secular ingenuity.”
Ver. 6.—You have dishonoured by your treatment the poor man, whom God chose; while those rich men to whom ye pay such honour are just the very persons who (1) oppress you and (2) blaspheme God and Christ. Poor … rich. In the Old Testament we occasionally find the term “poor” parallel to “righteous” (; ); and “rich” to “wicked” (). St. James’s use here is somewhat similar (see on ch. 1:9†, etc.). “Christians multi ex pauperibus erant: pauci ex divitibus” (Bengel). The “rich men” here alluded to are evidently such as was the Apostle Paul before his conversion). They dragged the poor Christians before the judgment-seat (ἔλκουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς κριτήρια). So Saul, “hauling (σύρων) men and women, committed them to prison” (). (2) They blasphemed the honourable Name by wich Christians were called. So Saul thought that he ought to do many things contrary to the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, and strove to make them blaspheme (). (3) All this they did in person (αὐτοί); “them-elves,” just as Saul did. No difficulty need be felt about the presence of these rich men in the synagogues of the Christians (see Introduction, p viii). It will be noticed that St. James never calls them “brethren.” Further, it must be remembered that, at this early date, the Church had not yet learnt by bitter experience the need for that secrecy with which in later days she shrouded her worship. At this time, the Christian assemblies were open to any who chose to find their way in. All were welcome, as we see from , etc., where the chance entry of “men unlearned or unbelieving” is contemplated as likely to happen. Hence there is no sort of difficulty in the presence of the “rich man” here, who might be eagerly welcomed, and repay his welcome by dragging them to the judgment-seat. Draw you before the judgment-seats. The account given by Josephus of the death of St. James himself affords a good illustration of the manner in which Christians were liable to this (see Introduction, p. vi.). But the tribunals need not be confined to Jewish ones. Other instances of similar treatment, illustrating the thoughts and language of the passage before us, may be found in ; ; , Litigation of an entirely different character between Christians themselves is alluded to and condemned by St. Paul in .
Ver. 7.—That worthy Name (τὸ καλὸν ὅνομα); the honourable Name; probably the Name of Christ, by which the disciples were known (), and for which they suffered (; ). By the which ye are called; literally, which was called upon you (τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς). A similar expression is found in St. James’s speech in , in a quotation from .
VERSE 8
2:8–9. Jesus made LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR (, ) a foremost command (; ). This is the royal law because of its preeminence and because it was sanctioned by the King, the Lord Jesus. The OT command to love one’s neighbor (v. 8; ) prohibited partiality (v. 9), particularly against the poor ().
2:8. James designated the command to love your neighbor as yourself () as the royal law. He may have used the term royal because Christ, the true king, set forth the law ().
In the parable of the Good Samaritan () Jesus defined a neighbor and discussed the demands of loving a neighbor. Jesus defined a neighbor as anyone in need. He urged us to show our love to neighbors by responding to their needs.
Let’s look at

Partiality is inconsistent with love

James 2:9–10 ESV
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
The Law is OT. Is it still relevant for us today?
Matthew 22:37–40 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:39 ESV
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:38–40 ESV
38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
mt
But what is Paul then saying in ?
mt
Tie in to this
Romans 8:3 ESV
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
VERSE 9
2:9 Partiality is the antithesis of the love command (see v. 8). Favoritism toward the rich breaks the OT commands to treat the poor equitably (; ; ) and is a serious transgression of God’s law.
2:9–11. This section deplores the violation of the royal law. If the readers truly practiced favoritism, they committed sin and stood convicted as lawbreakers. had warned against the practice of favoritism, against either the poor or the rich. It appealed for fair treatment of our neighbors.
Leviticus 19:15 ESV
15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
gal5.
Ver. 9.—And are convinced, etc.; better, with R.V., being convicted by the law (ἐλεγχόμενοι ὐπὸ τοῦ νόμου). The Law of Moses directly forbade all respect of persons; see (three verses above the passage just quoted by St. James), Οὐ λήψῃ πρόσωπον πτωχοῦ μὴ θαυμάσῃς πρόσωπον δυνάστον).
VERSE 10
Galatians 5:13–14 ESV
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
2:10–13. The Mosaic law is an indivisible unit. Breaking one command incurs the same penalty for breaking the whole law. Please note that although the law is a unit, this does not mean that all commandments are equal. Jesus referred to both the greatest commandments () and the “weightier provisions” of the law ().
2:10–11 accountable for all of it. The law was considered an interdependent whole, and any infraction constituted a breaking of the law as a whole. Jesus said, “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (). Thus favoritism () makes one “accountable” (Gk. enochos, a legal term for “liable” or “guilty” before God’s court) for the whole law.
Verse 10 shows why those who practice partiality are lawbreakers. Some Jews saw God’s law as containing many detached requirements forbidding such actions as murder, adultery, and robbery. They failed to see its unity. They may have felt that strict obedience at one point would compensate for disobedience elsewhere.
God’s Law is not like a setup of ten bowling pins which we knock down one at a time. It more resembles a pane of glass in which a break at one point means that the entire pane is broken.
The primary application of verse 10 was to one who showed partiality for the rich over the poor. Violating this single commandment made a person a lawbreaker. We should apply the statement of verse 10 in other areas where we are tempted to praise ourselves for obedience at one point while neglecting to consider the points where we grievously disobey God’s teachings.
The Bible does not say all sins are equal. Stealing a candy bar is not the same as committing adultery. Thinking about murder is not as bad as committing the act. Every sin does bring guilt. It takes only a single sin to make a person a sinner. No act of obedience can compensate for acts of disobedience.

Takeaways

Verse 11 shows the unity of the Law lies in its origin in God. The commandments prohibiting both adultery and murder originated with God. To resist one requirement of the Law is to resist God, the authority beneath its requirements.
Showing favoritism is incompatible and inconsistent with the claim to have faith in Jesus Christ
When we show favoritism for one person over another we are making ourselves judges over them.
Partiality that leads to rejection of an individual or a people is sin in the sight of God.
The Christian religion allows not that contempt for even earthly dignities affected by some of her followers, but springing more from envy and unruliness than aught besides. True reverence and submission are in no way condemned by this Scripture, but their excess and gross extreme, the preference for vulgar wealth, the adulation of success, the worship, in short, of some new golden calf” (Punchard). 3. Respect of persons, regard to outward appearances, the gold ring and the gay clothing, evince not merely evil thinking but want of faith (ver. 4); i.e. a halting between God, who is no respecter of persons, and the world, which judges only by that which is external. How foolish also to regard the persons of men, when the object of our faith is the Lord of glory himself!
Ver. 5.—Worldly poverty is by no means inconsistent with true riches: rather it is often accompanied by them, for “God chose the poor as to the world to be rich in faith;” not as if poverty were necessarily accompanied by goodness, or as if all the rich were rejected. But “not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called;” while “the poor,” as a class, “have the gospel preached to them.” It has been well said that “the temptations of riches assumed in that age very gross forms of sensuality or of greed; but do they become less dangerous by losing a portion of their grossness?”
ver. 10.—The obedience which God requires is absolute. “Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Why, since the breach of but one command is certainly not as sinful as the breach of all? Because (1) “the principle of duty and of obedience to all the commandments is one; so that if we choose for ourselves nine commandments to keep, and one to break, we are not doing God’s will, but our own; (2) all the precepts are alike expressions of one Divine will, and rest on one authority; (3) all the precepts are manifestations of love at work—love first to God, and then to our neighbour; and each particular failure shows defect in this” (Dean Scott). “A garment is torn, though you only take away one piece of it; a har mony in music is spoiled if only one voice be out of tune” (Starke). The perfect figure of the circle is marred by a flaw in any one part of it. So to break one command out of all is to violate the whole principle of obedience. Thus men have no right to pick and choose which commandments they will keep, or to
“Compound for sins they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to.”
As Christians, we are not entitled to bow down in the house of Rimmon, nor does the strictest obedience to one command give us a dispensation to break another; e.g. spotless chastity on the part of the unfallen will not atone for Pharisaism and harshness to the fallen, for “if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the Law.” (On this verse see a sermon in Dr. Pusey’s ‘Parochial Sermons,’ vol. iii. p. 70.)
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