James 2:1-17

James 2:1-17
Ordinary B41


My brothersA and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritismB really believeC

Notes on verse 1a

A “brothers” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.
B “acts of favoritism” = prosopolempsia. 4x in NT. From prosopolemptes (literally, one who accepts a face, i.e. act with partiality); {from prosopon (face, surface, or front; can imply presence); {from pros (at, towards, with) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}} + lambano (active acceptance/taking of what is available or what has been offered; emphasizes the choice and action of the individual)}. This is favoritism or partiality.
C “believe” = echo + ho + pistis. Literally, “hold the faith.” Echo is to have, hold, or possess. Pistis is from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.

in our gloriousD LordE JesusF Christ?G 

Notes on verse 1b

D “glorious” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
E “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
F “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
G “Christ” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.

2 For if a personH with gold ringsI and in fineJ clothesK comes into your assembly,L

Notes on verse 2a

H “person” = aner. This is man, male, husband, or fellow. It can also refer to an individual.
I “gold rings” = chrusodaktulios. 1x in NT. From chrusos (gold or something made of gold; symbolic of purchasing power); {perhaps from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request)} + daktulios (a ring for a finger); {from daktulos (finger); probably from deka (ten)}. This is having or wearing a gold ring on one’s finger.
J “fine” = lampros. 9x in NT. From the same as lampas (a torch or lantern that was hand held, perhaps made of clay with a flax wick and oil); from lampo (to give light literally or figuratively). This is literally bright or shining. By analogy, it can be splendid, gorgeous, fine (of quality), or gleaming white.
K “clothes” = esthes. 8x in NT. From hennumi (to clothe). This is robe, clothing, dress. It is used of both human and angelic apparel.
L “assembly” = sunagoge. From sun (with, together with, closely associated) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go, drive). Literally, this is a bringing together, a place of assembly. The term can be used for the people or for the place where they assemble. It is also sometimes used of Christian churches in the New Testament. So, this is synagogue, assembly, congregation, or church. This is where the word “synagogue” comes from.

and if a poor personM in dirtyN clothes also comes in, and if you take noticeO of the one wearingP the fine clothes

Notes on verses 2b-3a

M “poor person” = ptochos. From ptosso (to crouch or cower as a beggar does). This is poor or destitute – someone who is extremely poor and bowed down because of a long struggle under poverty. Properly, it means bent over so figuratively it is someone who is deeply destitute and lacking tangible resources. This is a beggar – as extremely opposite a wealthy person as possible.
N “dirty” = rhuparos. 2x in NT. From rhupos (filth, dirt; it is a greasy dirt that stains and clings; figuratively, moral depravity). This is dirty, shabby, defiled, or wicked.
O “take notice” = epiblepo. 3x in NT– including the Magnificat “God has looked with favor on the lowliness of God’s servant” in Luke 1:48. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + blepo (to see, used primarily in the physical sense; figuratively, seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, beware, and acting on the visual information). This is to look at, to regard with favor, to pay focused attention or give special regard to something, to gaze at with pity, to be partial to.
P “wearing” = phoreo. 6x in NT. From phero (to bear, bring, lead, make known publicly; to carry in a literal or figurative sense). This is to wear or bear regularly or continually. It can refer to clothing or bearing a burden.

and say, “Have a seatQ here, please,”R while to the one who is poor you say, “StandS there,” or, “Sit at my feet,T 

Notes on verse 3b

Q “have a seat” = kathemai. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + hemai (to sit). This is to sit, be enthroned, or reside.
R “please” = kalos. From kalos (good, noble, beautiful, correct, or worthy; external signs of goodness like beauty, demonstrations of honorable character, showing moral virtues; a different word, agathos, speaks of intrinsic good). This is nobly, rightly, well-perceived, seen as appealing, morally pleasing, honorably.
S “stand” = histemi. This is to stand, place, establish, appoint, stand ready, be steadfast.
T “feet” = hupopodion. 7x in NT. From hupo (by, under, about, under one’s authority) + pous (foot in a figurative or literal sense). This is literally under the feet. So, it is a footstool or footrest. It is also used figuratively to depict a king as one who has conquered his enemies. This is the same root that “podium” comes from.

have you not made distinctionsU among yourselves, and becomeV judgesW with evilX thoughts?Y 

Notes on verse 4

U “made distinctions” = diakrino. 19x in NT. From dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is to judge, separate, contend, investigate, thoroughly judge.
V “become” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
W “judges” = krites. Related to “made distinctions” in v4. 19x in NT. From krino (see note U above). This is judge or ruler.
X “evil” = poneros. From poneo (to toil); related to ponos (pain, trouble, labor, distress, suffering; toil, which implies anguish); from the base of penes (a laborer, poor person, starving or indigent person; someone who works for their living); from pernomai (working for a living; laborer, poor person; to work for daily bread); from peno (to toil to survive day by day). This is bad, evil, wicked, malicious, grievous, or toilsome. Properly, it is something that bears pain – it emphasizes the miseries and pains that come with evil. By contrast, the Greek kakos refers to evil as part of someone’s core character. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue. This word can mean ill, diseased, morally culpable, derelict, vicious, malicious, or guilt. It can also refer to the devil or sinners.
Y “thoughts” = dialogismos. 14x in NT. From dialogizomai (to consider, have a back and forth debate with an uncertain conclusion; multiple confused minds reinforcing a faulty conclusion); {from dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + logizmai (to compute or reckon up, to count; figuratively, it is coming to a conclusion or decision using logic; taking an inventory in a literal or figurative sense); {from logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; here, word as an account or accounting; can also be a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. This is reasoning, plotting, argument, discussion that reinforces faulty reasoning, debate.

Listen,Z my belovedAA brothers and sisters. Has not GodBB chosenCC the poor in the worldDD

Notes on verse 5a

Z “listen” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
AA “beloved” = agapetos. From agape (love, goodwill, benevolence; God’s divine love); from agapao (to love, take pleasure in, esteem; to prefer). This is Beloved or very dear one. It is a title for the Messiah, but also for Christians. Properly, this is one who personally experiences God’s love.
BB “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
CC “chosen” = eklego. Related to “thoughts” in v4. From ek (from, from out of) + lego (see note Y above). This is to choose, select, elect.
DD “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.

to be richEE in faithFF and to be heirsGG of the kingdomHH that he has promisedII to those who loveJJ him? 

Notes on verse 5b

EE “rich” = plousios. From ploutos (abundance, wealth, or riches; money, possessions, spiritual abundance, or a valuable bestowment); from polus (much, many, abundant) OR pleo (to sail, voyage); {probably from pluno (to plunge – so to wash); from pluo (to flow)} OR pletho (to fill, accomplish, supply; to fill to maximum capacity). This is wealthy, having full resources. It can be a rich person or refer to God’s abundance.
FF “faith” = pistis. Same as “believe” in v1. See note C above.
GG “heirs” = kleronomos. 15x in NT. From kleros (lot, portion, heritage; that share assigned to you; also a lot used to determine something by fate, chance, or divine will); {perhaps from klero (casting a lot) or from klao (to break in pieces as one breaks bread)} + the same as nomos (what is assigned – usage, law, custom, principle; used for the law in general or of God’s law; sometimes used to refer to the first five books of the Bible or the entire Old Testament; also used to refer to theology or the practice and tradition of interpreting and implementing the law of God); {from nemo (to parcel out, assign)}}. This is heir, inheritor, or possessor – whether literal of figurative.
HH “kingdom” = basileia. From basileus (king, emperor, sovereign); probably from basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is kingdom, rule, authority, sovereignty, royalty, a realm.
II “promised” = epaggellomai. Related to “assembly” in v2. 15x in NT. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + aggello (to announce, report); {from aggelos (angel, messenger); probably from ago (see note L above)}. This is to proclaim, profess, or make a promise that is fitting.
JJ “love” = agape. Related to “beloved” in v5. See note AA above.

6 But you have dishonoredKK the poor. Is it not the rich who oppressLL you? Is it not they who dragMM you into court?NN 

Notes on verse 6

KK “dishonored” = atimazo. 7x in NT. From atimos (without honor, lacking value, without dignity, despised); {from a (not, without) + time (worth or perceived value; literally, price, but figuratively, the honor or value one sees in someone or something; can be esteem or dignity; can also mean precious or valuables); from tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value)}. This is to dishonor or disgrace, insult, shame, mistreat. It is mistreating someone because they are seen as lacking value or worth.
LL “oppress” = katadunasteuo. 2x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout) + dunastes (ruler, powerful, or court official; someone who has power and authority or, by extension, someone in the royal court); {from dunamai (to be able, have power or ability)}. This is to use power to put others down. So, it is to overpower or oppress, to tyrannize.
MM “drag” = helko. 8x in NT. Perhaps from haireomai (to take, choose, or prefer) {probably related to airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is to pull in or draw in. It can be drag in a literal or figurative sense. This places an emphasis on the power of the attraction.
NN “court” = kriterion. Related to “made distinctions” and “judges” in v4. 3x in NT. From krites (see note W above). This is something used to judge, a court of law, controversy, test, a case in court, a tribunal. It is where “criterion” comes from.

Is it not they who blasphemeOO the excellentPP nameQQ that was invokedRR over you?

Notes on verse 7

OO “blaspheme” = blasphemeo. From blasphemos (blasphemer, reviler, reviling; speaking slander or evil); {from perhaps blapto (to harm or to hinder) + pheme (saying, news, rumor, fame) {from phemi (to say, declare, speak comparatively through contrasts, bring to light); from phao (to shine)}}. This is to slander, malign, hurl abuse, speak against, blaspheme, or defame. It is speaking evil or abusive language – not acknowledging what is good or worth reverence/respect.
PP “excellent” = kalos. Related to “please” in v3. See note R above.
QQ “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.
RR “invoked” = epikaleo. From epi (on, upon, among, what is fitting) + kaleo (to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud); {related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on)}. This is to call on, appeal to, worship, invoke for help.

You doSS wellTT if you really fulfillUU the royalVV lawWW according to the scripture,XX “You shall love your neighborYY as yourself.” 

Notes on verse 8

SS “do” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
TT “well” = kalos. Same as “please” in v3. See note R above.
UU “fulfill” = teleo. From telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax; going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one). This is to complete, fulfill, accomplish, end.
VV “royal” = basilikos. Related to “kingdom” in v5. 5x in NT. From basileus (see note HH above). This is royal, something suitable to or otherwise connected to a king. It can also be a royal official, the king’s country, attire, or dignity.
WW “law” = nomos. Related to “heirs” in v5. See note GG above.
XX “scripture” = graphe. From grapho (to write). This is literally writing, a document. In the New Testament, this is always used for scripture.
YY “neighbor” = plesion. 17x in NT. From pelas (near). This is near, nearby, or neighboring. As one nearby, it can also refer to a neighbor, a member of one’s country, a Christian, or a friend.

But if you show partiality,ZZ you commitAAA sinBBB and are convictedCCC by the law as transgressors.DDD 

Notes on verse 9

ZZ “show partiality” = prosopolempteo. Related to “acts of favoritism” in v1. 1x in NT. From prosopolemptes (see note B above). This is to show partiality, to favor someone particularly.
AAA “commit” = ergazomai. From ergon (work, task, action, employment). This is to work, labor, perform, toil.
BBB “sin” = hamartia. From hamartano (to miss the mark, do wrong, make a mistake, sin); {from a (not) + meros (a part or share)}. Literally, this means not having one’s share or portion – like not receiving inheritance or what was allotted to you. This word means missing the mark so it is used for guilt, fault, and acts of sin.
CCC “convicted” = elegcho. 17x in NT. This is to expose, reprove, discipline, convict, or rebuke. It is using convincing evidence to expose a wrong.
DDD “transgressors” = parabates. Related to “kingdom” in v5 & “royal” in v8. 5x in NT. From parabaino (literally to go past; to violate, break, or transgress; intentionally stepping across a boundary that one is aware of; to turn aside or depart); {from para (beside, by, in the presence of) + the same as basis (see note HH above)}. This is transgressor – someone who intentionally crosses the line.

10 For whoever keepsEEE the wholeFFF law but failsGGG in oneHHH point has become accountableIII for all of it. 

Notes on verse 10

EEE “keeps” = tereo. From teros (a guard or a watch that guards keep); perhaps related to theoreo (gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning; looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means; the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning); from theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is to guard, observe, keep, maintain, or preserve. It can also be used figuratively for spiritual watchfulness. It is guarding something from being lost or harmed – keeping an eye on it. Contrast the Greek phulasso, which is to guard something so that it doesn’t escape. Also contrast koustodia, which generally denotes a fortress or military presence. This word can mean fulfilling commands, keeping in custody, or maintaining. It can also figuratively mean to remain unmarried.
FFF “whole” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
GGG “fails” = ptaio. 5x in NT. Perhaps from pipto (to fall literally or figuratively). This is to stumble or cause to stumble. It can also refer to sinning or giving offense or failing.
HHH “one” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
III “accountable” = enochos. Related to “believe” in v1. 10x in NT. From enecho (to hold in, ensnare, be angry at); {from en (in, on, at, by, with) + echo (see note C above)}. This is bound by, liable to, deserving, guilty, subject, in danger of.

11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”JJJ also said, “You shall not murder.”KKK Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so actLLL as those who are to beMMM judgedNNN by the law of liberty.OOO 

Notes on verses 11-12

JJJ “commit adultery” = moicheuo. 15x in NT. From moichos (adulterer; a man who has been with a married woman; used figuratively of an apostate). This is committing adultery or adultery itself. Used of a man with a married woman or a married man with anyone other than his wife.
KKK “murder” = phoneuo. 12x in NT. From phoneus (a murderer); from phonos (killing, murder, or slaughter; one of the crimes that Barabbas and Saul are accused of); from pheno (to slay). This is to kill or murder. It is killing on purpose without justification.
LLL “act” = poieo. Same as “do” in v8. See note SS above.
MMM “to be” = mello. Perhaps from melo (something that one is worried or concerned about, something one pays attention to or thinks about). Properly, this is ready, about to happen, to intend, delay, or linger. This is just on the point of acting.
NNN “judged” = krino. Related to “made distinctions” and “judges” in v4 & “court” in v6. See note U above.
OOO “liberty” = eleutheria. 11x in NT. From eleutheros (a free person, at liberty, not a slave; properly, unshackled – figuratively, it is one who has the freedom to choose their destiny. Also, it is one who does not have obligation or liability); probably from erchomai (to come or go). This is liberty or freedom. Particularly, it would be release from slavery. It can also refer to moral freedom.

13 For judgmentPPP will be without mercyQQQ to anyone who has shownRRR no mercy;SSS mercy triumphs overTTT judgment.

Notes on verse 13

PPP “judgment” = krisis. Related to “made distinctions” and “judges” in v4 & “court” in v6 & “judged” in v12. From krino (see note U above). This is a judging or a sentence. It is often used of God’s judgment, but can also be any accusation or condemnation. This is where the word “crisis” comes from.
QQQ “without mercy” = anileos. Related to “drag” in v6. 1x in NT. From aneleos (); {from a (not, without) + eleos (mercy, pity, tender mercy, or compassion; generally understood in action by word or deed)} OR from a (not, without) + hileos (forgiving, merciful, gracious, cheerful as benevolent; a way to say “far be it”); {from hilaos (gracious, benevolent) or from haireomai (see note MM above}. This is merciless or inexorable.
RRR “shown” = poieo. Same as “do” in v8. See note SS above.
SSS “mercy” = eleos. Related to “without mercy” in v13. See note QQQ above.
TTT “triumphs over” = katakauchaomai. 4x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, throughout) + kauchaomai (literally holding one’s head high – to boast proudly or to glory, joy, exult, rejoice; can be boasting in a positive or negative sense); {perhaps from auchen (neck) OR from aucheo (to boast) + euchomai (to wish, request, pray to God)}. This is to boast over or exult over, to glory, rejoice, triumph over. It is lifting up or boasting over one thing at the expense of something else in a bad way. It can be false superiority or arrogance.

14 What goodUUU is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?VVV CanWWW faith saveXXX you? 

Notes on verse 14

UUU “good” = ophelos. 3x in NT. From ophello (heaped together, accumulate, increase). This is advantage, gain, or profit.
VVV “works” = ergon. Related to “commit” in v9. See note AAA above.
WWW “can” = dunamai. Related to “oppress” in v6. See note LL above.
XXX “save” = sozo. From sos (safe, rescued, well). This is to save, heal, preserve, or rescue. Properly, this is taking someone from danger to safety. It can be delivering or protecting literally or figuratively. This is the root that “savior” and “salvation” come from in Greek.

15 If a brother or sisterYYY isZZZ nakedAAAA

Notes on verse 15a

YYY “sister” = adelphe. Related to “brothers” in v1. From adelphos (see note A above). This is sister in a literal or figurative sense.
ZZZ “is” = huparcho. From hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to) + archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power). This is to begin or be ready, to exist or possess. It is what one already has or possesses.
AAAA “naked” = gumnos. 15x in NT. This is naked. Generally, it refers to someone who is not completely clothed i.e. only wearing the undergarment and not the complete attire for going out. Rarely, it can mean completely naked. It can be naked in a literal or figurative sense – open, bare, ill-clad. This is where “gymnasium” comes from.

and lacksBBBB dailyCCCC food,DDDD 

Notes on verse 15b

BBBB “lacks” = leipo. 6x in NT. This is to leave behind, remain, lack, abandon, fall behind while racing.
CCCC “daily” = ephemros. Related to “have a seat” in v3. 1x in NT. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + hemera (day, time, daybreak); {perhaps from hemai (see note Q above)}. This is daily or needed for a day. It is where “ephemeral” comes from.
DDDD “food” = trophe. 16x in NT. Perhaps from trepho (to bring up, rear, nourish, fatten, nurse; properly, to enlarge through proper nourishment). This is nourishment in a literal or figurative sense. By implication, it can be ration or wages.

16 and one of you says to them, “GoEEEE in peace;FFFF keep warmGGGG and eat your fill,”HHHH

Notes on verse 16a

EEEE “go” = hupago. Related to “assembly” in v2 & “promised” in v5. From hupo (by, under, under the authority of) + ago (see note L above). This is to lead under so to depart, go away, or die. It is to lead away under the command of someone else, being given a mission or objective to carry out.
FFFF “peace” = eirene. Perhaps from eiro (to join, tie together to form a whole). This is one, peace, quietness, rest, peace of mind, harmony. Peace was a common farewell among Jews (i.e. shalom) and this well-wishing included a blessing of health and wholeness for the individual. This word also indicates wholeness and well-being – when everything that is essential is joined together properly. This is peace literally or figuratively. By implication, it is prosperity (but not in the sense of excessive wealth. Prosperity would have meant having enough from day to day.)
GGGG “keep warm” = thermaino. 6x in NT. From thermos (hot); from the same as theros (heat, which implies the summer); from thero (to heat). This is to warm or warm oneself. This root is where the words “thermometer” and “thermos” come from.
HHHH “eat your fill” = chortazo. 16x in NT. From chortos (food, grass, grain, hay; a place for feeding, a court, garden; by implication, a pasture or vegetation). This is to feed, fodder, fill, or satisfy. It carries the sense of abundantly supplied food – even gorging on food.

and yet you do not supplyIIII their bodilyJJJJ needs,KKKK what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.LLLL

Notes on verses 16b-17

IIII “supply” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.
JJJJ “bodily” = soma. Related to “save” in v14. Perhaps from sozo (see note XXX above). This is body or flesh. It can be body in a literal or figurative sense (as the body of Christ). This is where the word “somatic” comes from.
KKKK “needs” = epitedeios. 1x in NT. From epitedes (enough). This is what is necessary or suitable. It could also be what is convenient.
LLLL “dead” = nekros. Perhaps from nekus (corpse). This is dead of lifeless, mortal, corpse. It can also be used figuratively for powerless or ineffective. It is where the word “necrotic” comes from.

Image credit: “The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes” by James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894.

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