Poor and Rich
- James calls his audience “beloved brethren” because, excluding hypocrites, they were his believing brethren and he was concerned for them and wanted to teach them.
- Chosen presupposes sovereign election.
- Poor in this world would mean materially poor (I Cor.1:26-31) who are often despised and downtrodden. Rich in faith (spiritually as in II Cor.8:9) means with all the blessings of salvation viz. covenant forgiveness and fellowship, assurance, faith, adoption, sanctification, justification, glorification and hope (among others).
- God chooses mainly poor because they are less reliant upon status and riches and to confound the rich. Christ said it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom (Matt.19:23) because you cannot serve God and money. But he does choose some e.g. Abraham, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea and Rich Young Ruler.
- God’s kingdom is his reign in grace over all his people which one day will encompass all creation. All believers will inherit the kingdom (Matt.5:3, 5, 10).
- Some of the same brethren (v 5), Jewish converts, would be guilty of partiality (v6).
- The rich oppressors somehow by their power and influence brought the law (probably by bribery and corruption) down upon the heads of God’s poor people. They paid them poorly for long hours’ work (James 5:4).
- Rich oppressors might attempt to take over the land belonging to the poor or make them slaves (e.g. in Nehemiah’s time (chap.5) and the awful example of Naboth).
- Blasphemy is using God’s name in vain in expletives, swearing and cursing God. It is the opposite of the petition, “Hallowed by thy name.” Christians are called by Christ’s name.
Keeping the Royal Law
- Partiality is breaking the great command to love thy neighbour (Lev.19:18), your family are your nearest neighbours!
- It breaks this law in that we are not treating all alike and loving them without distinction.
- It is the Royal Law because King Jesus commanded it and kept it himself.
- The Law is a unit reflecting the unity of God and breaking one part is tantamount to breaking it all.
- James shows the law is a unity by stating that to break any single commandment is equally heinous. The law of love means seeking our neighbour’s spiritual good, loving him for God’s sake and not respecting persons for our (selfish) sake. Loving neighbour is only possible when loving God. Next Study (DV) Saturday June 25th 8pm.