James 2:1-7 The Lord Of Glory, Sovereign Grace, And Equality.
James again addresses his readers as ‘brethren’. He hopes the best for them, as those who “hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,” without partiality (v. 1). So, our faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ specifically, and He is the Lord of glory (Cf. I Cor. 2:7). Calling Jesus ‘the Lord of glory,’ echoes Psalm 24, a psalm extolling the character and majesty of the Creator God, the King who also acts in history on behalf of His people as ‘the Lord of hosts’. The law describes righteousness as the opposite of partiality, which refers to regarding people according to their station in life (Cf. Lev, 19:15). This is one example of why James regarded the law as a “perfect law of liberty,” because as law it enforced the equality of persons, in particular in regard to one’s wealth or lack thereof. The man who entered their assembly with gold rings and fine apparel, should not be treated any differently than a poor man and his clothes (vv. 2-3). To treat these people differently, is to judge them “with evil thoughts” (v. 4). “Though God calls us to discern and to discriminate between good and evil, discrimination based on mere externals such as economic status, racial or ethnic differences, and the like is considered an evil form of judgment” (NGSB p.1960).
James now asks his readers or hearers to ‘listen’, and calls them “beloved brethren” (v. 5a). So he is urging them as fellow believers, and not as those who are outside the faith. However, their behaviour has been contrary to that which the Lord required of them. He reminds them that God has “chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith” (v. 5b). So it is not the wise or rich or anyone else who choose God, but it is God who chooses, and some of those whom He chooses are “the poor of this world.” His readers were presuming to make a judgement which was not theirs to make. The fact of the matter is that God does choose some of the poor of this world to be rich in faith, “and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (v. 5cd). “We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19). Having thus been chosen by Him out of shear grace, He shows the extent of that love by also making us heirs of the kingdom-the promise of the covenants. By and large, it was the rich who oppressed them and took them before the courts, and blasphemed the name of the Lord (vv. 6-7). “Inheritance in the kingdom is based on God’s sovereign election. The standards of this world have no influence on God’s gracious election (1 Cor. 1:28, 29; Eph. 1:4)” (NGSB p. 1960).