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(1) My brothers (and sisters), Have no partiality in the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. (2) For if a man with gold ring and in shining clothes comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in, (3) you may look at the one wearing the shining clothes and say, “Sit here, a good place” and to the poor man you say, “Stand there” or “Sit under my footstool.” (4) Do you make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges of evil reasoning? (5) Hear, my beloved brethren, did not God choose the poor in the world, rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those loving him? (6) But you dishonoured the poor. Do not the rich oppress you and themselves drag you into tribunal? (7) Do they themselves not defame the good name that was invoked over you? (8) If, however, you fulfill the Royal Law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you do well. (9) But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (10) But whoever may keep the whole law but stumble on one, he has become guilty of all. (11) For the one who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak and so act as to be judged through the law of liberty. (13) For it is merciless judgment to the one who had done no kindness. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
In a modern democratic state, we often hear about equality and justice for all. In such an idealistic scenario, the unequal treatment that the biblical author speaks about in James 2:1-13 runs counter to our expressed ethos. Yet, the reality still pricks our conscience and the passage becomes a real challenge for us. The call that resounds in the passage is to love the neighbour as oneself. This passage on respect of persons, prejudice, partiality, favouritism, or snobbery is one of the most abidingly challenging and relevant sections of James.[i]
My study here will follow the following method. After investigating the background of the Epistle and the pericope of my interest in the first section, I will do an exegetical analysis of the pericope in the second section. The third section will be a hermeneutical study of the text in the context of the present day modern world, especially that of the church in India.
The author of the Epistle of James (now on as the Epistle) identifies himself as James. He qualifies himself as the servant of God and of Jesus Christ (Jas 1:1). He is arguably a teacher (Jas 3:1). Scholars differ on the identity of this James.[ii] However, the tune and the mood of the epistle show that the author did exercise a great authority in the early church. He probably had access to the Q material of Jesus, especially to the Sermon on the Mount. He was someone who had the first-hand experience of Jesus and his teachings. As many in the recent scholarly field agree, he is most probably James, the brother of the Lord (Gal 1:19) who had a great authority in the Jerusalem church.[iii]
Since the epistle is from someone who had a first-hand experience of Jesus Christ, we must conclude that the author wrote in the early stages of Christianity. The absence of an elaborated Christology[iv] might point to a fact that the writer never felt the need to do so as his potential readers had already accepted Jesus as Christ. Many teachings of Jesus, especially that of the Q appears in James but unlike in Gospels as direct quotations.[v] In most probability, the readers were well aware of the sayings of Jesus, that the just mentioning of it could remind them of Jesus. Although there are differences in the scholarly circle one can, thus, easily find reasons to date the Epistle to be of an early tradition, when the Christianity was just an offshoot of Judaism.[vi]
James’ address (1:1) to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion” leaves open the possibility that he writes to more than one community. Although, this community is manifestly Jewish in character, it is unmistakably a Christian writing[vii] and understands Jesus as Lord and Chirst (1:1) and as Our Lord (2:1). Therefore I prefer to use the general term “Jewish Christians”[viii] to refer to the first readers of the Epistle.
There is no consensus among the scholars with regard to the literary genre of the Epistle. Martin Dibelius considered the Epistle as a paraenesis- a genre of hortatory literature which resisted any immediate application to a single audience or single set of circumstances and lacked any demonstrable continuity of thought.[ix] But, James is now widely perceived to be an intentionally ordered, coherent composition, rather than a stringing together of loosely connected units lacking continuity of thought.[x] The Epistle does have traces of the Greek literary style of diatribe. But it is found only occasionally.[xi] The Epistle is of Jewish sapiental literature.[xii] I believe that the Epistle is a masterpiece of the Christian rhetoric, which could be considered as a pastoral epistle[xiii] which uses a superior Greek rhetoric style.
There are four significant structural indicators on the macro-discourse level of the Epistle. These include inclusions crafted at 1:2-4/1:12, 1:12/1:25, 2:12-13/4:11-12, and 4:6/5:6. The first two indicates a structural reason for taking the first chapter of the Epistle as an introduction to the book. [xiv] “The third major inclusio, crafted at 2:12-13/4:11-12, marks off the heart of the letter body (2:1–5:6). The opening of the inclusio (2:12-13) summarizes and concludes the opening essay in the body of the letter (2:1-11), and the closing of the inclusio (4:11-12) forms a transition to the closing of the body of the letter (4:13–5:6). Thematically, both opening and closing essays concentrate specifically on issues of poverty and wealth.”[xv] The inclusio may be depicted as follows. [xvi]
καταλαλεῖτε / ὁ καταλαλῶν / καταλαλεῖ (katalaleite / ho katalalōn / katalalei)
ποιητὴς νόμου (poiētēs nomou)
ὡς διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας (hōs dia nomou eleutherias)
καταλαλεῖ νόμου (katalalei nomou)
μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι (mellontes krinesthai)
καὶ κρίνει νόμον (kai krinei nomon)
κρίνεσθαι / κρίσις / κρίσεως (krinesthai / krisis / kriseōs)
ὁ κρίνων (x2) / κρίνει / κρίνεις / κριτής (ho krinōn (x2) / krinei / krineis / kritēs)
Thus, the inclusio provides a clue that the chapter one serves as an introduction to the whole of the Epistle and 2:1- 4:12 forms the major section of the Epistle. And in this major section 2:1-13 forms the first essay of the Epistle.
James’ use of Ἀδελφοί μου (Adelphoi mou) (My brothers) (1:19, 2:1, 2:14) is an indication that he intends to start a new section. But if it is taken for face value that whenever ‘Ἀδελφοί μου’ (Adelphoi mou) is used, it is an indication of the beginning of a new section, it would be faulty. James uses ‘Ἀδελφοί μου’ (Adelphoi mou) also to get attention from his readers (eg.2:5).
Although there is continuity with regard to the theme of the pericope from that of the earlier one, especially with regard to the mentioning of the perfect law in 1:25, this pericope (i.e. 2:1-13) deals with the issue of partiality in particular. One author has argued that James uses many mirrors (cf 1:22-25) for the readers to understand themselves. This teaching against being partial is the first mirror he uses.[xvii] So we can find a thematic difference here from the earlier pericope which deals with the hearing and doing the word and about the pure religion and the following pericope which deals with the relationship between faith and works. This is a base for a successful de-limitation of the text.
Form criticism has identified the literary genre of the pericope as “treatise.” It follows the below pattern.[xviii]
Thesis : 2:1
Illustration : 2:2-4
Exposition : 2:5-11
Conclusion : 2:12-13
The pericope also contains elements of Greek rhetoric, antithetical parallelism, and diatribe style. These will be discussed further in the exegetical analysis.
The literary context of the text is already explained in the section under de-limitation. The pericope is the first major section of the teaching of the Epistle. This passage fits coherently within the flow of the letter. James has already introduced the theme of caring for the needy (1:27).[xix] The analogy of the one who looks into the mirror is further developed by James as he invites his readers to look into their attitude and behaviour through the mirror of the royal law. One can easily find the motive of James in taking the side of the poor and marginalized.
James carries on this discussion in the following chapters. In 2:12 he says, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. In 2:14-26, he explains the need to act according to the law of liberty and in 3:1-12, the need to speak properly. Therefore 2:1-13, serves as an important passage which explains the concern of James.
The historical context of the passage can be perplexing. The use of the word ‘synagogue’ could point to the fact that the Christianity in James was not yet separated from Jewish religion. According to scholars, the setting could be either of worship or a court. Whatever be the situation, one can without doubt confirm that everything in the community of James was not perfect. Poor were looked down and were treated unequally while the rich continued to oppress them.
I have structured the text as follows in the line of the literary genre of treatise.
1. Thesis (2:1)
2. Illustration (2:2-4)
a. An Example (2-3)
b. Conclusion (4)
3. Exposition (2:5-13)
a. First Argument (5-6a)
b. Second Argument (6b-7)
c. Third Argument (8-11)
4. Conclusion (2:12-13)
Greek Text: Ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης.
( Adelphoi mou, mē en prosōpolēmpsiais echete tēn pistin tou kyriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou tēs doxēs.)
James begins this pericope with the common rhetorical address “my brothers” (Adelphoi mou). This indicates his relationship with his listeners as brothers in Christ. This also has a purpose to introduce a new topic. The word Ἀδελφοί (Adelphoi) in plural can also mean brothers and sisters. [xx] Therefore it is correct to translate this as ‘My brothers and sisters’ (NRSV).
The term προσωπολημψίαις (prosōpolēmpsiais) is not found in either secular Greek or the LXX. It is apparently a creation of the early Christian tradition to translate a common Hebrew term nāsā’ p̄ānı̂m (נָשָׂא פָּנִים ) (LXX πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν (prosōpon lambanein) or θαυμάζειν πρόσωπον (thaumazein prosōpon))[xxi] which literally means ‘to look down on somebody’s face.’ The proper meaning of προσωπολημψία would be to discriminate people according to their appearance. The prohibition of προσωπολημψία (prosōpolēmpsia) is found in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:15; Ps. 132:2; Mai. 2:9); it is against the nature of God (Deut. 10.17; Job 34:19; cf. Acts 10:34). Its usage here almost resembles that of Lev. 19:15. In both places, it is a prohibition to treat people according to their riches or poverty.
The teaching prohibits expressing faith (πίστις(pistis)) while holding discrimination.[xxii] Faith is a response to the revelation of God as manifested in ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’. A response that holds prejudice and discriminate people according to their appearance is not Christian. The word πίστις (pistis) takes an objective genitive here. Therefor the clear meaning of the phrase is the faith of the believer in ‘our glorious lord Jesus Christ.’
‘τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης’ (tou kyriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou tēs doxēs) is a long phrase which makes it difficult to translate it correctly into English. This phrase is translated differently by many scholars. Those who hold on to the view that the Epistle is just a re-edited Jewish work, argue that the phrase ‘ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ’ (hēmōn Iēsou Christou) is added by the editor. It might seem to make perfect sense to read ‘τοῦ κυρίου τῆς δόξης (tou kyriou tēs doxēs).’ τῆς δόξης (tēs doxēs) is identified with the Shekinah of Old Testament. In Old Testament Shekinah (from the root שכן (škn) “to dwell”) means the visible presence of the Lord.[xxiii] Israelites experience this presence of the Lord in the form of fire and cloud in the wilderness. Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon said, “two that sit together and are occupied in words of Torah have the Shekinah among them.”[xxiv] However, by adding the phrase Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Iēsou Christou) James seems to be equating the presence of Jesus with that of God. Probably the early Jewish Christian believers hailed Jesus as the Shekinah or visible manifestation of the divine splendor.[xxv] It could also mean that the believer experiences the living presence of Lord Jesus Christ in the community (Mt. 18:20). This presence makes it a maxim to avoid all types of partiality or prejudice in the community.
The thesis of the treatise could, therefore, be read as- “My brothers and sisters, you should not hold on to your prejudice and treat people according to their physical status as you live an authentic Christian life responding to the revelation of Jesus Christ in his abiding presence.”
Verses 2-4 comprise one long sentence in the Greek text. The long ‘if’ clause sets up the situation and the two main clauses critique the situation by raising two rhetorical questions[xxvi] through an explanatory καὶ. After stating the thesis in the first verse, James illustrates his thesis with an example in verses2-3. Like the story the poor man’s lamb told by Prophet Nathan to King David, this illustration serves as a mirror for the members of the community to understand the unequal treatment they offer to different human beings. Thus the conclusion in verse 4 is drawn in two rhetorical questions accusing them of making distinctions and becoming judges with evil reasoning.
Greek Text : 2 ἐὰν γὰρ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ, εἰσέλθῃ δὲ καὶ πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι, 3 ἐπιβλέψητε δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν φοροῦντα τὴν ἐσθῆτα τὴν λαμπρὰν καὶ εἴπητε, Σὺ κάθου ὧδε καλῶς, καὶ τῷ πτωχῷ εἴπητε, Σὺ στῆθι ἐκεῖ ἢ κάθου ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιόν μου,
ean gar eiselthē eis synagōgēn hymōn anēr chrysodaktylios en esthēti lampra, eiselthē de kai ptōchos en rhypara esthēti, 3 epiblepsēte de epi ton phorounta tēn esthēta tēn lampran kai eipēte, Sy kathou hōde kalōs, kai tō ptōchō eipēte, Sy stēthi ekei ē kathou hypo to hypopodion mou
Ἐάν (ean) with the subjunctive denotes that which under certain circumstances is expected from an existing general or concrete standpoint in the present: ‘case of expectation’ and ‘iterative case in present time’.[xxvii] Therefore, it denotes that even if the case that James presents is hypothetical, his readers can agree to this as happening in the real time and often.
In the New Testament it is the only instance where the word συναγωγή (synagōgēn) is used to address a Christian assembly. The word συναγωγή (synagōgēn) means a meeting place. In the religious context, it is primarily a Jewish place of meeting or meeting itself, preferably for worship.[xxviii] This has also been a reason for some scholars to think that the Epistle was originally written to Jews. But συναγωγή is also used for the liturgical meetings and meeting-places of Christians.[xxix] However, some scholars think that the setting is of a court (1 Cor. 6:1–11).[xxx] The legal vocabulary that follows in the pericope adds strength to their argument. But Davids is wrong to argue on the ground that both the men are strangers who need to be directed to take a seat. In the Synagogues, there was an official called חזן (ḥzn) who directed people to their seats. It was a regular custom in the Synagogue.[xxxi] A possible allusion to the practice of giving preference is found in Matt. 23:6b (“the Pharisees who love the best seats in the synagogues”).[xxxii] The main argument of the pericope is the partial treatment that is rendered to the poor and it does not matter where it occurs. Both the arguments can co-exist without being paradoxical. Probably Christians came together for worship (XXX) and also to resolve the disputes among themselves (1 Cor. 6:1–11).
The example of the man in fine clothes versus the poor man in dirty clothes offers an antithetical parallelism. This is analysed in the following table.
a man with gold ring and in shining clothes comes (2a)
and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in (2b)
you may look at the one wearing the shining clothes (3a)
and to the poor man (3c)
and say, “Sit here, a good place” (3b)
you say “Stand there” or “Sit under my footstool.” (3d)
They are not treated equally by the members of the community. The appearance and the treatment both the men receive are in apparent antithesis. Man with gold rings comes in shining clothes whereas the poor man comes in dirty clothes. The community looks at the well-clad man before they say anything whereas they just say to the poor man without even looking at. The well-clad man is offered a good seat to sit whereas the poor man is asked to stand or sit on the ground.
Rich verses poor is a recurring theme in James (1:9-12; 2:1-13; 5:1-6). However, James does not explicitly mention the rich (πλούσιος (plousios)) here. Rather, he qualifies the man with a gold ring and in shining clothes. The gold ring probably resembles an aristocrat Roman or Jewish leader with political or religious authority. The fine clothes he wears makes him a rich and highly placed individual. The shining clothes that he wears, and the acceptance he receives in the community due to its glory is in sharp contradiction to the glory of Jesus Christ (2:1). The glory of the rich man is external whereas the glory of the Lord is internal. [xxxiii] In contrast to the appearance of this rich and powerful man, the poor man is qualified as poor (πτωχός (ptōchos)) and in dirty clothes. James takes utmost care to qualify this man as poor. Poor in Israel were instantly qualified as the anawim, or the poor of YHWH. This clearly tells his intentions to take the side of the poor. The poor man is in dirty clothes, probably because he has neither time nor resources to make his clothes clean or get shining new clothes, like the aristocrat rich person.
It is interesting to note that it is not the appearance of individuals that James is condemning. His interest is on the differences of the treatment that is rendered to the individuals according to their appearance. The man in fine clothes is asked to join the community by ‘looking at him with admiration’ (ἐπιβλέψητε (epiblepsēte)) and requesting him to “Sit here, a good place.” ἐπιβλέψητε (epiblepsēte) is found only here and in Luke (1:48; 9:38). The earlier verse in Luke is from the Magnificat where Mary praises God because he has “regarded” the lowly condition of his handmaiden. God is praised for demonstrating his care for the poor and humble. This attitude is evidently absent from the congregation to which James writes.[xxxiv] The presence of ὧδε (hōde) shows that the community itself is seated in the good place, thereby asking the man to join them. In contrast, the poor man is not even looked but only asked to “stand there” or “sit at my feet.” Thus, by treating the poor in such a contrast manner, the community separates (note the use of ἐκεῖ (ekei)) itself from the poor.
Greek Text : 4 οὐ διεκρίθητε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς καὶ ἐγένεσθε κριταὶ διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν;
ou diekrithēte en heautois kai egenesthe kritai dialogismōn ponērōn
Lev. 19:15 prohibited rendering unjust judgment by being partial to the poor and defer to the rich. The Israelites are asked to judge their neighbour with justice. This law is explained by various Jewish teachers in their ‘Halachic Midrash’ teachings. Thus the law required the Jewish people to treat people with justice and equality. If a rich man had a dispute with the poor man and they come to a court, the rich man had to dress like the poor man or dress the poor man like the rich (Dt. Rab. Shofetim 5:6 on Dt. 16:19; Babylonian Talmud Shebuoth 31a). The law also required both the parties to either sit down or stand while prohibiting one to sit and another to stand in a court (Sipra Kedoshim Perek 4:4 on Lv. 19:15; Babylonian Talmud Shebuoth30a; Tosephta Sanhedrin 6:2; Abot de Rabbi Nathan 1:10).[xxxv]
By not complying with such practical norms, the community was judging unjustly. James rightly accuses them of making distinctions (διεκρίθητε (diekrithēte)) among themselves and becoming judges (κριταὶ (kritai)) with evil reasoning. James uses a strong literary style in two rhetorical questions, eliciting an agreement from his readers. The two questions are linked together by a play on words: διεκρίθητε (diekrithēte) and κριταὶ (kritai).[xxxvi]
διεκρίθητε (diekrithēte) is better understood in the sense of discriminating or making distinctions.[xxxvii] Thus in the first question, James levels the charge that such discriminating treatment between the richly clad and the poor by the community of faith is indeed a violation of the principle of impartiality implicit in its faith commitment to Jesus Christ, the Shekinah presence of God in the community.[xxxviii] The second question condemns the mental activity that produces such discrimination. Christians are not to ‘judge’ each other (Jas 4:11; Matt. 7:1-5; Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 5:12), especially according to their outward appearance. Such a judgment is the result of ‘evil reasoning’ (διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν (dialogismōn ponērōn)). The word διαλογισμός (dialogismos) is often used in the New Testament with a negative meaning (Mt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; Luke 2:35; Luke 5:22; Luke 6:8; Luke 9:46; Rom 1:21; etc.).[xxxix] In the letter to Philippians, St. Paul urges his readers to “Do all things without grumbling or questioning… (Phil 2:14).” By using the word διαλογισμῶν and qualifying it with the adjective πονηρῶν (ponērōn), James strongly condemns their mental frame which causes the differential treatment rendered to the individuals according to their appearance.
James builds up on the illustration (vv.2-4) in the light of the initial thesis (v.1). He brings home his point by using three arguments. First, their action contradicts God’s action (vv 5-6a); second, their experience contradicts their action (vv. 6b-7); and third, their action is a violation of God’s law in the fuller sense (vv. 8-11). This section is also very rich in literary style. The first two arguments are formed in two rhetoric questions. In the third argument James uses the diatribe style to make his point.
Greek Text : 5 Ἀκούσατε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί· οὐχ ὁ θεὸς ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ πλουσίους ἐν πίστει καὶ κληρονόμους τῆς βασιλείας ἧς ἐπηγγείλατο τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτόν; 6a ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠτιμάσατε τὸν πτωχόν.
5 Akousate, adelphoi mou agapētoi; ouch ho theos exelexato tous ptōchous tō kosmō plousious en pistei kai klēronomous tēs basileias hēs epēngeilato tois agapōsin auton? 6a hymeis de ētimasate ton ptōchon.
This is the first argument that James makes against the behavior of the community. The argument starts with James calling attention of his listeners as ‘my beloved brethren.’ This gives us a glimpse of his relationship with his audience. He is like a true teacher or pastor feels for his people as they are straying away from the truth. He wants them to listen to his arguments, so that they will understand the truth.
James proves that their discrimination against poor is against the action of God. The concept of election was deeply rooted in both Jewish and Christian thought. [xl] The main Hebrew equivalent of πτωχός (ptōchos) is עָנִי (ʿānî). Primarily the word expresses a relation (the dependent) rather than a state of social distress. Only in a more developed usage does עָנִי (ʿānî) refers to poverty. Yahweh is presented as the protector of עֲנִיִּים. Poverty includes both material poverty and social poverty, that is, belonging to an oppressed class (Ps. 35:10; 37:14)[xli] Anawim spirituality can also be traced in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20; Mt 5:3; 5:5). Just as Jesus made the poor, the heirs of the kingdom of God (Mt 5:3), James also makes them blessed and the heirs of the kingdom of God. This poor are rich in faith (πλούσιοι ἐν πίστει (plousioi en pistei)) which goes well with the religious meaning.[xlii]
Although the poor are ‘God’s elect,’ the behaviour of the community towards them is in contrast with the activity of God. The community of the believers, where the presence of Christ is felt, dishonoured the poor by treating him as an outsider to the community. Thus they have dishonoured the heirs of the kingdom to which they themselves belonged.
Greek Text : 6b οὐχ οἱ πλούσιοι καταδυναστεύουσιν ὑμῶν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἕλκουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς κριτήρια; 7 οὐκ αὐτοὶ βλασφημοῦσιν τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς;
6b ouch hoi plousioi katadynasteuousin hymōn kai autoi helkousin hymas eis kritēria? 7 ouk autoi blasphēmousin to kalon onoma to epiklēthen eph᾽ hymas?
After comparing their action against that of God, James now argues that their experience contradicts their action. Their experience of the rich are three fold: oppression, legal persecution, and blasphemy.[xliii] The community members are addressed as you (ὑμῶν (hymōn)) whereas the rich are addressed as they (αὐτοὶ (autoi)). The rich are, thus, presented as outsiders to the community. This is probably because the Christian community understood themselves as the ‘poor elect’ of the Lord.
The language of the first rhetorical question is strongly oriented to the Old Testament tradition of the oppression of the poor by the rich (Je. 7:6; 22:3; Ezk. 18:7, 12, 16; 22:7, 29; Am. 4:1; 8:4; Hab. 1:4; Zc. 7:10; Mal. 3:5; Wis. 2:10; 17:2).[xliv] James treats the oppression of the poor by the rich exclusively in 5:1-6.
The disputes among the Christians were settled among themselves, but some rich did drag cases to court. The rich could easily influence the court procedures. Paul in his letter to Corinthians questions the wisdom of going to the ‘secular court’ for justice (1 Cor. 6:1–11). It was not only those inside the community who drag the Christians to the legal courts. Jesus warns his disciples that their adversaries would drag them to court. James here explicitly mentions that it is the rich who drag the ‘poor’ believers to the court. It might not come as a surprise for us, as only the rich could have been able to afford a court case.
The second question in the argument (v. 7) accuses the community of taking side of the rich who blaspheme the ‘good name invoked over them (τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς (to kalon onoma to epiklēthen eph᾽ hymas)).’ The good name that is invoked over them is definitely that of ‘Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ,’ because the early Christians were called either ‘Nazarenes’ or ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26). In the acts of the apostle, Peter confirms that, “…let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). In the ancient world, a possession was known by the name of the possessor; people under the name of their god (Amos 9:12; Num. 6:27; Is. 43:7; Jeremiah.14:9; etc.) a slave under the name of the master.[xlv] Christians were the possession of Christ Jesus (cf. 1:1) whose name was invoked over them. James, the president of the Jerusalem council while quoting from Amos 9:12 uses the same phrase (Act 15:17).
James accuses the rich of blaspheming this good name. Such an accusation has lead the scholars to think that the rich here are people outside the church. The rich people in the not-yet-divided synagogue might have blasphemed the Lord’s name. Though this reasoning seems to be valid, I find no reason to think that James does not include the rich in the community of the believers. The rich people in the community alienated themselves from the poor and demanded the best seats just like the Pharisees had done at the time of Jesus. If the rich in the community of believers oppress the poor, it should be considered as the blasphemy against the name of the Lord who is Love (cf. 11 John 4:16). Therefore the discriminations that are belted against the poor are against the love of God and the love of neighbour (cf. Jas 2:8-11).
Thus by drawing the experience of the anawim community of the Lord, James rightly shows the folly of being partial towards the rich who oppress, persecute the community and blaspheme the ‘good name that is invoked over them.’
Greek Text : 8 εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν, Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε· 9 εἰ δὲ προσωπολημπτεῖτε, ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθε ἐλεγχόμενοι ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου ὡς παραβάται. 10 ὅστις γὰρ ὅλον τὸν νόμον τηρήσῃ πταίσῃ δὲ ἐν ἑνί, γέγονεν πάντων ἔνοχος. 11 ὁ γὰρ εἰπών, Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, εἶπεν καί, Μὴ φονεύσῃς· εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύεις φονεύεις δέ, γέγονας παραβάτης νόμου.
8 ei mentoi nomon teleite basilikon kata tēn graphēn, Agapēseis ton plēsion sou hōs seauton, kalōs poieite; 9 ei de prosōpolēmpteite, hamartian ergazesthe elenchomenoi hypo tou nomou hōs parabatai. 10 hostis gar holon ton nomon tērēsē ptaisē de en heni, gegonen pantōn enochos. 11 ho gar eipōn, Mē moicheusēs, eipen kai, Mē phoneusēs; ei de ou moicheueis phoneueis de, gegonas parabatēs nomou.
The third argument of the James is drawn from the scriptures. The authoritative teacher as he is, James makes a strong argument using the scripture. In the Jewish exegetical style of ‘Halachic Midrash,’ he explains the royal law to love the neighbour to argue against the discrimination of the poor. One cannot assign degrees to the commandments of the Lord. Therefore if one is guilty of breaking one law, he or she is guilty of all. This is the most powerful argument of James. The issue is set up in the form of two conditional sentences (vv. 8-9), followed by two explanatory assertions establishing the hypocrisy in the discrimination between rich and poor.[xlvi]
The first “if” clause dealing with the royal law is taken from Lev. 19:18. The law is qualified as royal (βασιλικὸν (basilikon)) because it belongs to God who is universal king (Lev. 19:18) and was treated as royal by Christ the King (Matt. 22:34-40). It is also the norm for ethical conduct of the Kingdom of God (Rom 13:8-10) and the sum of the entire law (Gal 5:14). This indicates that to love the neighbour as oneself comes from God, and was hailed by Jesus as the sum total of the commandments and by the early Christians as the norm for the kingdom of God.[xlvii] In the context, the law is qualified as royal according to the scripture, probably indicating that Lev.19:15 is being quoted here, although all the above mentioned usages is surely in mind.[xlviii]
As in every diatribe of the Greek literature, this defence is made by an imaginary character. The imaginary character here is the community of believers. They argue that by honouring the well-clad man, they are only doing what is required of them by the law, because the law asks them, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18). James accepts that if they are only fulfilling the law according to the scripture they do well. But in the following verse he questions their treatment of the poor.[xlix]
The background of the second “if’ clause is Lev 19:15. Deut. 16:19 also forbids to show partiality. Partiality is stated here as the anti-thesis of the Royal law. To love is to do well but to be partial is to commit sin (Matt 7:23; cf. Ps 6:8; for the verb cf. 1:4, 20).[l] But for James, the action of showing favoritism, while considered inconsequential by some in the church, was a serious matter; he equates it with the act of sinning The presence of the word, μέντοι (mentoi) in v.8 and the strong statement in v.9 makes it clear that they have narrowed down the understanding of neighbour. Jesus had asked them to love not only the neighbour but even the enemies (Mt. 5:43-47). Thus, he added enemies also to the definition of neighbour. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that any person-in-need is a neighbour. The poor man in Jas 2:2-3 was someone in need. He needed justice, love and care. He was also a neighbour to the community. Therefore by refusing to give him a fair treatment as that was given to the well-clad man, the members of the community have offended the very law they used to defend their activity. Because the law which asked them to love their neighbour (Lev 19:18) also required them not to be partial to the poor or defer to the rich (Lev. 19:18). By this argument James exposes the hypocrisy of the church and convicts them of doing sin.
The presence of this γὰρ in v. 10 suggests that what follows is an explanatory assertion. He does this using the ‘logia’ style of the Greek literature. He first states his thesis, then illustrates it with an example and finally draws a satisfactory logical conclusion.
In v. 10 he states his thesis, “But whoever may keep the whole law but stumble on one, he has become guilty of all.” Even if one were to commit but one sin, it is as though he has sinned against all commandments. This unitary conception of the law was held by Jews (LXX of Dt. 27:26; Philo Legum Allegoriae 3.241; 4 Macc. 5:20; Testament of Asher 2:5; Babylonian Talmud Shabbath 70b; Sipre on Dt. 187; Pesiqta Rabbati R. 50:1; Nu. Rabbah 9:12 on Nu. 5:14). The traces of this thought is also found in the teachings of Jesus (Mt. 5:18-19; 23:23) and in Paul’s letter to Galatians (Gal. 3:10; 5:3). The thesis affirms the unitary nature of the law of God. [li]
James illustrates his thesis with two commandments from the tablets. “Do not commit adultery” and “Do not murder.” These two commandments are presented here as representing the entire Torah. This is evident from the statement he makes, because he speaks of the whole law in v.10. James illustrates that since the entire law is coming from the same God, the entire law should be considered as royal. Love of neighbour includes the entire law (cf. Gal 5:14). The selection of these two commandments might have been special to James. Murder is associated with discriminating against the poor, which is a failure to love one’s neighbor and associated with hate (Matt 5:21, 22).[lii] James in 5:4 calls those who make friendship with the world as “adulterers.” By honouring the rich and powerful, the community is making friendship with the world, whereas by discriminating the poor, they are committing murder. Now, even if one argues that they are not honouring, but only loving the rich neighbour, they still commit murder because they have discriminated the poor.
The conclusion in v. 11b follows the above two arguments. Since the entire law comes from the same God, one law is not above the other. One is supposed to obey the entire law and not parts of it. Therefore if you obey only one law and not the other, you are still a transgressor of the entire law.
The third argument of James can be arranged in a chiastic structure.
A: You are doing well if you are keeping the Royal Law according to the scripture. (v. 8)
B: The entire law demands you to treat everyone equally (v. 9)
C: Whoever may keep the whole law but stumble on one, he has become guilty of all. (v. 10)
B‘: The same God gave the entire law. (v. 11a)
A‘: You are a transgressor of the law if you fail in any one law. (v. 11b)
Therefore the core of the third argument of James is that even if you treat everyone except one equal, you are a transgressor of the law which says to love your neighbour. To love your neighbour is not to be understood in terms of loving only those whom you like or who are ‘likeable.’
Greek Text: 12οὕτως λαλεῖτε καὶ οὕτως ποιεῖτε ὡς διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας μέλλοντες κρίνεσθαι. 13ἡ γὰρ κρίσις ἀνέλεος τῷ μὴ ποιήσαντι ἔλεος· κατακαυχᾶται ἔλεος κρίσεως.
12houtōs laleite kai houtōs poieite hōs dia nomou eleutherias mellontes krinesthai. 13hē gar krisis aneleos tō mē poiēsanti eleos; katakauchatai eleos kriseōs.
Verses 12 and 13 serve as the conclusion to the entire pericope. As we have already seen these verse makes an inclusio with 4:11-12.
The two imperatives λαλεῖτε (laleite) and ποιεῖτε (poieite) are in the present tense, expressing the ongoing responsibility. They serve as connectives to the pericope which follow. One’s speech (Jas 3:1-12) and actions (Jas 2:14-26) should be in conformity with each other and the word they hear and do (cf. Jas 1:22), because they will be judged according to the law of liberty (cf. Jas 1:25). They cover the entire outwardly action of a person (cf. Acts 1:1; 7:22; 1 John 3:18).[liii] The repetition of the word οὕτως (houtōs) underscores the demand made by the imperatives.
That which will serve as the criteria of judgment is the “law of liberty.” According to James, this law of liberty is the perfect law. The observers of this law are not just hearers who forget but doers who act (cf. 1:25). ἐλευθερίας (eleutherias) is objective genitive. The phrase νόμου ἐλευθερίας (nomou eleutherias) (law of liberty) could be understood as “the law that makes free.” The true function of “law” is not to condemn but to set free, and to promise God’s compassion to those who in turn appreciate it in so far as they also are compassionate.[liv] Rabbinic Judaism spoke of the Torah as setting one free (Aboth 3:5; 6:2; Baba Kamma 8:6; Baba Metzia 85b).[lv] According to James, one needs to understand the law not only as ‘royal’ but also as ‘liberating.’ The law demands liberation from oppression, persecution, and defaming of the good name. The law belongs to the kingdom of which the heirs are the poor.[lvi] The partial treatment of the poor is a violation of this ‘law of liberty.’ To love one’s neighbor is the highest form of freedom exercised, and ends in fulfillment of the law.[lvii] Therefore, this is an invitation to love one’s neighbour and treat everyone equally and take a preferential option for the poor as they are the ones who need to be liberated. This is a call to be doers of the word and not just hearers who forget!
Verse 13 contains two proverbial sentences. The switch from the second person in v 12 to the third person may indicate that v 13 is gnomic.[lviii] The first sentence says, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.” It is directly linked to the behaviour of the community. The judgment that is to come (v.12) will be without mercy, since they have shown no mercy to the poor. Thus this sentence summarizes the above pericope. Such an idea is also present in Jewish literature (cf. Shabbath 151b).[lix] “Failure to show mercy to others cuts a person off from a true appreciation of the divine compassion (as emphasized in the dominical parable of the debtor servant and its application, Matt 18:21–35)… Thus, those who discriminate against the poor are reckoned to be in danger of the same fate as the godless. Such stern warning is reminiscent of Matthew’s special sources (e.g., Matt 13:24–30, 41–42, 47–50; 25:31–46).” [lx] Greek patristic commentators interpreted this passage in the light of the parable of Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. God would have shown mercy to the rich man, but since he did not show mercy to Lazarus, his own judgement was without mercy. In contrast Rahab in vv.20-25 is justified because of her hospitality. These examples show “mercy triumphs over judgment” (2:13b).[lxi]
The second proverbial sentence reads, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” This offers hope in contrast to the threat of v 13a.[lxii] By their evil reasoning and discrimination, they have sinned and called judgment upon themselves. Only mercy can triumph over judgment now. There are differences of opinion among the scholars with regard to the source of the mercy mentioned here. Some think that the source of mercy is God[lxiii] and others that it is the believers.[lxiv]
In the Jewish Tradition, mercy means to care for the poor and downtrodden (Mic. 6:8; Zech. 7:9-10). Mercy is also a Christian necessity to receive God’s mercy (Matt. 5:7; 6:15; 18:32-35, Lk. 3:16). What pleases God is mercy and not sacrifices (Mt. 9:13). Jesus accuses the Pharisees neglecting the ‘weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith’ (Mt23:23). The human beings must show mercy to his fellow human beings, because God is merciful. The key to proper relationship with other human beings and God is mercy which in the Jewish heritage of James especially means caring for the poor — the very thing the church failed to do when the beggar showed up at church one day![lxv]
The Epistle of James posits many challenges to the church as the kingdom community. James goes deep into the then existing social life. He challenges them to be doers of the word and not just hearers. He puts before them many mirrors to show their actual state and calls for a radical conversion. For him “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27 NRS). Such a theoretical knowledge did not make any difference to the community. Therefore he goes on to give them a concrete example of doing this word. The pericope that deals with the discrimination and partial treatment really challenges the community and shakes their complacency.
James as a successful social analyser posits a direct connection between the individual and the social levels: divisions within the person lead to divisions within the community. “Those conflicts and disputes among you (i.e., within the community), where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you (i.e., within each individual)?” (Jas 4:1).”[lxvi] If each individual in the community can love the other as himself or herself, such cravings would disappear and all will be treated as the children of God and not according to their appearance.
It is right time to think about the concept of equality we have. Having equal opportunity or treating everyone equally will not bring equilibrium into a society which has a high proportionality of inequality that exists. Therefore the concept of equality should be to make everyone equal and treat everyone equal. This concept calls for not just equal treatment for the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless, and the “haves and have-nots,”[lxvii] but a preferential option for the poor, powerless and have-nots. James clearly brings home this idea. According to James, even looking down at someone is against this equality. It is against the love of neighbour. If one loves the other as oneself, there will be perfect equality in the society. That is why the Royal Law of the Kingdom of God says, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself (2:8).”
In a country like that of India, the constitution envisages equality of all. It also provides greater opportunity for the poor, backward castes and tribes. However, even with such provisions, the gap between the haves and have-nots are increasing. Although there is a great development towards the equality of all, the reality is far from a satisfactory situation. The socially, economically, politically and sexually weaker and marginal sections of the society still experience a great deal of inequality. They are treated as second class citizens even by their own people. Such deep is the equilibrium in the society that one fails to notice it even in one’s own house or community.
Church claims to take a preferential option for the poor and the needy. Although a lot of work has been undertaken to lift the poor in the church, it is still an unfinished job. Many poor and backward classes feel dejected in the church. They are treated as outsiders by the powerful. The clergy, lay people, and authorities are all part of this structure. One faces partiality in many situations in the church. Be it in the institutions of the church or in the basic Christian communities, this discrimination is wide-spread. The church in India does run many institutions for the poor and the downtrodden. But the best of our resources are focused on the posh-rich-oriented institutions- be it schools, hospitals, or colleges. Even in the church, there is a great outcry for the greater role of laity in the church. Women in church are also not given an equal status. These underprivileged sections of the church need to be given more and more opportunities, not just equal, to be brought to the main-stream. They need to be given the best places in the assembly.
The Epistle of James challenges us in this situation of the society and the church. The church as leaven of the kingdom of God, should take greater importance to bring the down-trodden and long-forgotten sections of the society into the main stream society. Thus James 2:1-13 is a real challenge to show God’s mercy through the actions. We need to speak and to act as agents of mercy that will take care of the poor, widows, needy and the downtrodden sections of the society.
The early church was not a perfect society. But its leaders did challenge the situations that existed. Our leaders also need to challenge the existing social and individual conditions. As Christians we are not to judge others according to their appearance, for all are children of the same God. Our love should reach not only to those whom we love or are loveable but to all who are in need. This is not just a theoretical knowledge but a real challenge to treat anyone who comes across to us as part of us. Everyone, especially the poor and downtrodden deserves the best place in the assembly, so that he or she could experience the love of God in and through our love.
James teaches us with great authority to take the side of the poor. He questions our complacency. The church can no longer be at ease when the poor are suffering. James questions the wisdom of the community which thinks in the worldly line. For the world, the powerful is of great importance, but not for God. For James, social snobbery and partiality runs counter to the character of God, who is the ‘God of the Poor.’ If the worldly kingdom belongs to the rich and powerful, the kingdom of God is of the poor. Discrimination is a form of worldly judgment which recognizes the usefulness of a man to oneself, but in God’s view the soul of every individual is exceedingly precious. When motives are evil (v.4), the basis of discrimination is not spiritual but material—and in so doing we debase the name of Christ, forgetting the kingdom values for which He lived and died. To discriminate is also to limit God’s power, for it is tantamount to saying, God cannot do anything with such a man. Our actions, then is not based on love, but on likeness. Our glorious Lord was called the friend of publicans, harlots and sinners (Matt 9:11; 11:19) for He recognized the worth of every man and woman.[lxviii]
James, as a powerful teacher in the early Christian community, invites the community to take part in divine election of the poor. The community understood itself as poor, but treated its own poor members as outsiders and unequals. James questions the wisdom of such treatment. Echoing the Sermon the Mount, James argues that God has chosen the poor to be the heirs of the kingdom. Therefore, if any one fails to recognize the poor fails to understand the kingdom that is at work in the community. Treating people unequally is ‘playing God in the lives of others.’[lxix] That is absolutely sin. Mercy will be shown to those who are merciful. The poor man in James still questions our actions and thoughts. Even after twenty centuries he would not find a better seat in our homes or communities. “In his essay “The Message of James for Today,” Raymond Bryan Brown read James as calling Christians to the necessity of “a relevant Christianity” that could address the “credibility gap” facing the church.”[lxx] If the church still has to be a kingdom community, it needs to rethink its stand on the kingdom values and take not only a preferential option for the poor, but an option that works and changes the society.
[i]T. B. Maston, “Ethical Dimensions of James,” SWJT 12 (1969): 25.
[ii] James B Adamson, The epistle of James (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 3-52.
[iii]Martin Dibelius, James: A Commentary on the Epistle of James (ed. K. Helmut; trans. M. A. Williams; 11th rev. ed. prepared by H. Greevan; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975), 11-21.
Also Luke T. Johnson, “The Letter of James” NIB on CD-ROM. PDF Version. 2002, 210.
[iv] Johnson, James, 208.
[v] Adamson, James, 169-194.
[vi] Adamson, James, 193.
[vii] Johnson, James, 208.
[viii]Martin C. Albl, “’Are Any Among You Sick?’ The Health Care System in the Letter of James,” JBL 121 (2002): 123.
[ix] Donald J. Verseput, “Genre and Story: The Community Setting of the Epistle of James,” CBQ 62 (1 2000): 97.
[x] George H. Guthrie and Mark E. Taylor, “The structure of James,” CBQ 68 (4 2006): 682.
[xi] Adamson, James, 103-104.
[xii] W. Robertson Nicol, ed., The General Epistle of James (EGNT 4; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, ; repr., USA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), 405.
[xiii] Adamson, James, 110.
[xiv] Guthrie and Taylor, “The structure,” 683.
[xv] Guthrie and Taylor, “The structure,” 684.
[xvii] Author is unknown to the writer of this article. However, it is acknowledged that the idea is not original to the writer.
[xviii] Lorin L. Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” SJT 29 (1 1986): 20.
[xix] Jeannine K. Brown, “James 2:1-13,” Interpretation 62 (2 2008): 175.
[xx] W. Bauer et al., “ἀδελφός,” BAGD 16.
[xxi] Peter H. Davids, The Epistle of James : A Commentary on the Greek Text (includes indexes.; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982), 105.
[xxii] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 21.
[xxiii] Nicol, The General Epistle, 436.
[xxiv] Nicol, The General Epistle, 436.
[xxv] Ralph P. Martin, James (WBC 48; Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 60.
[xxvi] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 21.
[xxvii] F Blass, A. Debrunner, and R.W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (transl. & Rev. of the ninth-tenth German ed. incorporating supplementary notes of A. Debrunner by R.W. Funk; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961), 188.
[xxviii]W. Bauer et al., “συναγωγή,” BAGD 783.
[xxix]Schrage, “συναγωγή, ἐπισυναγωγή, ἀρχισυνάγωγος, ἀποσυνάγωγος,” TDNT 7:840.
[xxx]Davids, The Epistle of James, 108.
[xxxi] Nicol, The General Epistle, 437.
[xxxii] Cain H. Felder, “Partiality and God’s Law: An Exegesis of James 2:1-13,” JRT 39 (2 1982): 55.
[xxxiii] Piros Zodhiates, “δόξα,” CWSD G1391.
[xxxiv]Martin, James, 62.
[xxxv]Davids, The Epistle of James, 109.
[xxxvi] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 22.
[xxxvii] In Jas 1:6, διακρινόμενος is a middle form and should be translated as “one doubting”
[xxxviii] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 22.
[xxxix] Nicol, The General Epistle, 437.
[xl] Davids, The Epistle of James, 111.
[xli] Bammel, “πτωχός, πτωχεία, πτωχεύω,” TDNT 6:888-892.
[xlii] Bammel, TDNT 6:910.
[xliii] Davids, The Epistle of James, 112.
[xliv] Davids, The Epistle of James, 112.
[xlv] Nicol, The General Epistle, 439.
Also W. Bauer et al., “ἐπικαλέω,” BAGD 294.
[xlvi] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 23.
[xlvii] Johnson, James, 220.
[xlviii] Davids, The Epistle of James, 114.
[xlix] John B. Polhill, “Prejudice, partiality, and faith: James 2,” R&E 83 (3 1986): 397.
[l] Martin, James, 68.
[li]Davids, The Epistle of James, 116.
[lii] Martin, James, 70.
[liii] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 24.
[liv] Martin, James, 58.
[lv] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 24.
[lvi] Johnson, James, 220.
[lvii] Martin, James, 71.
[lviii] Martin, James, 71.
[lix] Nicol, The General Epistle, 442.
[lx] Martin, James, 72.
[lxi] Johnson, James, 221.
[lxii] Martin, James, 72.
[lxiii] Martin, James, 72.
[lxiv] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 25.
[lxv] Cranford, “An exposition of James 2,” 25.
[lxvi] Albl, “Are Any Among You Sick,” 128.
[lxvii] Kenneth G. Phifer, “James 2:1-5,” Interpretation 36 (3 1982): 282.
[lxviii]M.S. Mills, James: A Study Guide to the Epistle of James (RSA: 3E Ministries, 1997; repr., Dallas: 3E Ministries, 1997), Jas 2:1.
[lxix] D. J. Smit, “Exegesis and proclamation : “Show no partiality…” (James 2:1-13),” JTSA 71 (1990): 65.
[lxx] Sharyn E. Dowd, “Faith that works: James 2:14-26,” R&E 97 (2 2000): 195-196.
Adamson, James B. The epistle of James. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
Albl, Martin C. “’Are Any Among You Sick?’ The Health Care System in the Letter of James.” Journal of Biblical Literature 121 (2002): 123‒143.
Bauer, W., W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker, eds. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature :. Second edition revised and augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walter Bauer’s fifth edition, 1958. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, c1979.
Blass, F, A. Debrunner, and R.W. Funk. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Transl. & Rev. of the ninth-tenth German ed. incorporating supplementary notes of A. Debrunner by R.W. Funk. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961.
Brown, Jeannine K. “James 2:1-13.” Interpretation 62 (2 2008): 174‒176.
Cranford, Lorin L. “An exposition of James 2.” Southwestern Journal of Theology 29 (1 1986): 19‒30.
Davids, Peter H. The Epistle of James : A Commentary on the Greek Text. Includes indexes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982.
Dibelius, Martin. James: A Commentary on the Epistle of James. Edited by K. Helmut. Translated by M. A. Williams. 11th rev. ed. prepared by H. Greevan. Hermeneia–a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975.
Dowd, Sharyn E. “Faith that works: James 2:14-26.” Review & Expositor 97 (2 2000): 195‒205.
Felder, Cain H. “Partiality and God’s Law: An Exegesis of James 2:1-13.” Journal of Religious Thought 39 (2 1982): 51‒69.
Guthrie, George H., and Mark E. Taylor. “The structure of James.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 68 (4 2006): 681‒705.
Johnson, Luke T. The Letter of James. Edited by Leander E. Keck. CD-ROM, PDF Version. The New Interpreter’s Bible 12. 1998., Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002.
Kittel, G. and G. Friedrich, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. 10 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964–1976.
Martin, Ralph P. James. Word Biblical Commentary 48. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
Maston, T. B. “Ethical Dimensions of James.” South Western Journal of Theology 12 (1969): .
Mills, M.S. James: A Study Guide to the Epistle of James. RSA: 3E Ministries, 1997. Repr., Dallas: 3E Ministries, 1997.
Nicol, W. Robertson, ed. The General Epistle of James. The Expositor’s Greek New Testament 4. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, . Repr., USA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002.
Phifer, Kenneth G. “James 2:1-5.” Interpretation 36 (3 1982): 51‒69.
Polhill, John B. “Prejudice, partiality, and faith: James 2.” Review & Expositor 83 (3 1986): 395‒404.
Smit, D. J. “Exegesis and proclamation : “Show no partiality…” (James 2:1-13).” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 71 (1990): 59‒68.
Verseput, Donald J. “Genre and Story: The Community Setting of the Epistle of James.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62 (1 2000): 96‒110.
Zodhiates, Spiros, ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary. electronic ed. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993.