You have dishonored the poor (Jas 2:6)

“You have dishonored

The poor.

Is it not the rich people

That oppress you?

Is it not they

Who drag you

Into court?”

ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠτιμάσατε τὸν πτωχόν. οὐχ οἱ πλούσιοι καταδυναστεύουσιν ὑμῶν, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἕλκουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς κριτήρια;

James said, “You (ὑμεῖς) have dishonored (δὲ ἠτιμάσατε) the poor (τὸν πτωχόν).  Is it not the rich people (οὐχ οἱ πλούσιοι) that oppress (καταδυναστεύουσιν) you (ὑμῶν)?  Is it not they who drag (καὶ αὐτοὶ ἕλκουσιν) you (ὑμᾶς) into court (εἰς κριτήρια)?”  James warned his readers not to dishonor the poor people.  The rich people are actually the ones that are oppressing them.  They are the ones dragging them into the civil and religious courts, not the poor people.  Do you feel oppressed by anyone?

God has chosen the poor (Jas 2:5)

“My beloved brothers!

Listen!

Has not God chosen

The poor in the world

To be rich

In faith

And to be heirs

Of the kingdom

That he has promised

To those who love him?”

Ἀκούσατε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί. οὐχ ὁ Θεὸς ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ πλουσίους ἐν πίστει καὶ κληρονόμους τῆς βασιλείας ἧς ἐπηγγείλατο τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτόν;  

James said, “My beloved brothers (ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί)!  Listen (Ἀκούσατε)!  Has not God (οὐχ ὁ Θεὸς) chosen (ἐξελέξατο) the poor (τοὺς πτωχοὺς) in the world (τῷ κόσμῳ) to be rich (πλουσίους) in faith (ἐν πίστει) and to be heirs (καὶ κληρονόμους) of the kingdom (τῆς βασιλείας) that he has promised (ἧς ἐπηγγείλατο) to those who love (τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν) him (αὐτόν)?”  James explained to his beloved brothers, the readers of this letter, that they should listen to what he has to say.  He pointed out that God had chosen the poor people of this world to be rich in faith.  They would be the heirs to the kingdom that he promised to those people who loved God.  If you loved God, you would be rich in faith and the promised kingdom to come.  It did not matter that you were poor now in the sight of other humans.  Your wealth would be in the kingdom to come.  Do you believe that God loves poor people?

Do you judge others? (Jas 2:4)

“Have you not made

Distinctions

Among yourselves?

Have you become

Judges

With evil thoughts?”

οὐ διεκρίθητε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς καὶ ἐγένεσθε κριταὶ διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν;

James said, “Have you not made distinctions (οὐ διεκρίθητε) among yourselves (ἐν ἑαυτοῖς)?  Have you become judges (καὶ ἐγένεσθε κριταὶ) with evil thoughts (διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν)?”  James seemed to scold his readers with these questions.  Have they made distinctions among themselves?  Have they become evil minded judges regarding other people?  They had become judges of other people, assuming the worst of some people.  They were prejudging people by their clothes and wealth.  How do you judge people?

Greetings for the rich and the poor (Jas 2:3)

“Do you take notice

Of the one wearing

The fine clothes

And say,

‘Have an honorable seat here!’

Do you say

To the one who is poor,

‘Stand there!’

Or

‘Sit under

My footstool.’?”

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,

James said, “Do you take notice (ἐπιβλέψητε) of the one wearing (δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν φοροῦντα) the fine clothes (τὴν ἐσθῆτα τὴν λαμπρὰν) and say (καὶ εἴπητε), ‘Have an honorable seat here (Σὺ κάθου ὧδε καλῶς)!’  Do you say (εἴπητε) to the one who is poor (καὶ τῷ πτωχῷ), ‘Stand there (Σὺ στῆθι ἐκεῖ)!’ or (ἢ) ‘Sit under my footstool (κάθου ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιόν μου).’?”  James pointed out that based on their clothes, the two people entering the synagogue or assembly would be treated differently.  The well-dressed person would be greeted with “sit beside me in an honorable place”, while the poorly dressed person would be told to sit under his footstool or stand over there and don’t bother anybody.  Obviously, this seemed to indicate that the person in the assembly making these decisions and comments was a rich person with a footstool already there.  How do you treat people when you are in a church or a synagogue gathering?

The clothing of the rich and the poor (Jas 2:2)

“What happens

If a person

With gold rings

And in fine clothes

Comes into

Your assembly?

What happens

If a poor person

In dirty clothes

Also comes in?”

ἐὰν γὰρ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ, εἰσέλθῃ δὲ καὶ πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι,

James said, “What happens if a person (ἀνὴρ) with gold rings (χρυσοδακτύλιος) and in fine clothes (ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ) comes into (ἐὰν γὰρ εἰσέλθῃ) your assembly (εἰς συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν)?  What happens if a poor person (δὲ καὶ πτωχὸς) in dirty clothes (ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι) also comes in (εἰσέλθῃ)?”  This is the only time that this word appears in the NT writings, here in the Letter of James, χρυσοδακτύλιος, that means with a gold ring or adorned with a gold ring.  James wanted to explain the different situations and the attitudes that people have towards rich and poor people.  He cited the example of a rich and a poor person coming into their assembly or synagogue.  They could tell the rich person from the poor person by their clothing.  The rich person had gold rings and fine clothing, while the poor person had on old, dirty, and shabby clothes without any rings.  Do you judge people by their clothing?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? (Jas 2:1)

“My brothers!

With your acts

Of favoritism,

Do you

Really believe

In our glorious Lord

Jesus Christ?”

Ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης.

James said, “My brothers (Ἀδελφοί μου)!  With your acts of favoritism (μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις), do you really believe (ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν) in our glorious (τῆς δόξης) Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν) Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ)?”  James called his Jewish Christian readers his brothers.  Then he asked them a question.  With the favoritism that they show to the rich people, do they really believe in our Lord Jesus Christ in all his glory?  James was reprimanding them for their actions that betrayed their belief in Jesus Christ.  Do you show favoritism at times?

Care for orphans and widows (Jas 1:27)

“Religion

That is pure

And undefiled

Before God,

The Father,

Is this.

Care for orphans

And widows

In their distress.

Keep oneself

Unstained

By the world.”

θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου

James said, “Religion (θρησκεία) that is pure (καθαρὰ) and undefiled (καὶ ἀμίαντος) before God (παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ), the Father (καὶ Πατρὶ), is this (αὕτη ἐστίν).  Care for (ἐπισκέπτεσθαι) orphans (ὀρφανοὺς) and widows (καὶ χήρας) in their distress (ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν).  Keep (τηρεῖν) oneself (ἑαυτὸν) unstained (ἄσπιλον) by the world (ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου).”  James explained what a true religious devout person would do.  They would be pure and undefiled before God the Father.  They would also care for widows and orphans who were in trouble.  They would not be stained by the world around them.  James saw the religious devout person as someone who was active with widows and orphans, pure before God, and unaffected by the world around them.  Do you worry about orphans and widows?

Heartless religion (Jas 1:26)

“If anyone thinks

They are religious,

And do not bridle

Their tongues,

But deceive

Their hearts,

Their religion is heartless.”

Εἴ τις δοκεῖ θρησκὸς εἶναι, μὴ χαλιναγωγῶν γλῶσσαν ἑαυτοῦ ἀλλὰ ἀπατῶν καρδίαν ἑαυτοῦ, τούτου μάταιος ἡ θρησκεία.

James said, “If anyone thinks (Εἴ τις δοκεῖ) they are (εἶναι) religious (θρησκὸς), and do not bridle (μὴ χαλιναγωγῶν) their tongues (γλῶσσαν ἑαυτοῦ), but deceive (ἀλλὰ ἀπατῶν) their hearts (καρδίαν ἑαυτοῦ), their religion (ἡ θρησκεία) is heartless (τούτου μάταιος).”  This is the only time that these two words appear in the NT writings, here in the Letter of James, θρησκὸς, that means religious, careful observance of religious restrictions, or devout, and the word χαλιναγωγῶν that means to lead with a bridle, bridle, curb, restrain, or sway.  James reminded his readers about a false religious attitude.  If they did not restrain their tongues or bridle them like horses, they were deceiving themselves.  Their religion was useless or worthless.  Quite often there were these condemnations about false or idle statements about other people.  Apparently, this was a problem among first century Christians, even the Jewish Christians.  Do you have control over what you say?

Active perseverance (Jas 1:25)

“Those who look into

The perfect law,

The law of liberty,

And persevere,

Being not hearers

Who forget,

But doers who act,

They will be blessed

In their doing.”

ὁ δὲ παρακύψας εἰς νόμον τέλειον τὸν τῆς ἐλευθερίας καὶ παραμείνας, οὐκ ἀκροατὴς ἐπιλησμονῆς γενόμενος ἀλλὰ ποιητὴς ἔργου, οὗτος μακάριος ἐν τῇ ποιήσει αὐτοῦ ἔσται.

James said, “Those who look (ὁ δὲ παρακύψας) into the perfect law (εἰς νόμον τέλειον), the law of liberty (τὸν τῆς ἐλευθερίας), and persevere (καὶ παραμείνας), being (γενόμενος) not hearers (οὐκ ἀκροατὴς) who forget (ἐπιλησμονῆς), but doers who act (ἀλλὰ ποιητὴς ἔργου), they will be (ἔσται) blessed (οὗτος μακάριος) in their doing (ἐν τῇ ποιήσει αὐτοῦ).”  This is the only time that this word appears in the NT writings, here in the Letter of James, ἐπιλησμονῆς, that means forgetfulness or oblivion.  James pointed out that it was different with those who seek the perfect law, the law of liberty.  If they persevere, they would do things, not just listen.  They would be blessed for taking action.  Those who continue to seek the perfect law of liberty would be happy and blessed in their deeds.  Action was more important than mere listening.  Are you a listener or a doer?

They forget what they look like (Jas 1:24)

“They look at themselves,

And going away,

They immediately forget

What they are like.”

κατενόησεν γὰρ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν, καὶ εὐθέως ἐπελάθετο ὁποῖος ἦν.

James said, “They look (κατενόησεν γὰρ) at themselves (ἑαυτὸν), and going away (καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν), they immediately (καὶ εὐθέως) forget (ἐπελάθετο) what they are like (ὁποῖος ἦν).”  James explained that these self-admirers would eventually stop mirror gazing.  However, they would immediately forget what they looked like.  They would have to go back.  They would have to spend all their time trying to remember what they looked like in self-observation.  They never got anything done.  Do you complain about not getting anything done?