The Sin of Favoritism

My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.(A) For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world(B) to be rich in faith(C) and heirs(D) of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? Yet you have dishonored the poor.(E) Don’t the rich oppress you and drag(F) you into court? Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?(G)

Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself,[a](H) you are doing well. If, however, you show favoritism,(I) you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all.(J) 11 For he who said, Do not commit adultery,[b] also said, Do not murder.[c](K) So if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you are a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom.(L) 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy.(M) Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith and Works

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?(N) 17 In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”[d] Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works.(O) 19 You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder.(P)

20 Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete,(Q) 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,[e](R) and he was called God’s friend.(S) 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route?(T) 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.


  1. 2:8 Lv 19:18
  2. 2:11 Ex 20:14; Dt 5:18
  3. 2:11 Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17
  4. 2:18 The quotation may end here or after v. 18b or v. 19.
  5. 2:23 Gn 15:6

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