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BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

Summary of James 2:1-13:

James tells believers bluntly not to show favoritism because Jesus didn’t. Favoritism is discriminating and passing judgment on others (Jesus’ job, not ours). God judges the heart, not appearances. God chose the poor to be rich in faith and yet the people (you) insult them. The rich often sin against you (the people) in their quest for money.

If you show favoritism you sin. Even if you stumble and break just one law you are guilty of breaking them all. We are not to choose which laws are more important. We are called simply to obey.

We are free to show favoritism or not but out of mercy we must choose not to for this mercy will then be shown to us on Judgment Day and mercy is greater than judgment.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

9) Basically when you are showing favoritism, you are discriminating against others and judging others, which is Jesus’ job. You have also insulted those whom you have not favored. You have sinned and broken the law.

10a) Similar to James’ example. By judging others on appearance, promoting people based off whether they like them rather than who’s the best for the job, and even favoring certain kids over others.

b) Then you will treat everyone the same.

11) Personal Question. My answer: He has shown me mercy in so many ways that it would take forever to recount. One, He has shown me mercy in still having a job in the coronavirus. He has shown me mercy with my intelligence, drive, and perseverance so we are financially better than others. I have a great, healthy family. That is merciful.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

Great lesson since not judging others by appearances and not showing favoritism is really hard in this world. Great reminders, too.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

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James used strong words to refer to Jesus Christ: The Lord of glory. Moffatt comments: “The Christian religion [is here called] more explicitly belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the divine Glory – a striking term for Christ as the full manifestation of the divine presence and majesty. The Jews called this the shekinah.”

This is especially significant because James is widely (and properly) regarded as one of the first letters of the New Testament written (perhaps somewhere between AD 44 and 48). This means that the earliest Christians considered Jesus to be God, and said so in strong, unmistakable words.

James wrote to a very partial age, filled with prejudice and hatred based on class, ethnicity, nationality, and religious background. In the ancient world, people were routinely and permanently categorized because they were Jew or Gentile, slave or free, rich or poor, Greek or barbarian.

Jesus broke down these walls that divided humanity and brought forth one new race of mankind in Him (Ephesians 2:14-15).

In the ancient Greek, the word assembly is literally synagogue, the name of the meeting place for Jews. The fact that James calls a Christian meeting place a synagogue shows that he wrote before Gentiles were widely received into the church. At the time James wrote, most all Christians came from a Jewish heritage.

Fun Fact: This is the only place in the New Testament where an assembly of Christians is clearly called a synagogue.

“As Christians have no church-buildings at this period, their place of meeting was usually some large room in the house of a wealthy member or a hall hired for the purpose (Acts 19:9), where outsiders were free to attend the ordinary services… They were to be welcomed, but welcomed without any servility or snobbery.” (Moffatt)

“In Roman society the wealthy wore rings on their left hand in great profusion. A sign of wealth, rings were worn with great ostentation. There were even shops in Rome where rings could be rented for special occasions.” (Hiebert)

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The Dangers of Favoritism or Partiality

  • To show partiality shows that we care more for the outward appearance than we do upon the heart. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God looks at the heart, and so should we.
  • To show partiality shows that we misunderstand who is important and blessed in the sight of God. When we assume that the rich man is more important to God or more blessed by God, we put too much value in material riches.
  • To show partiality shows a selfish streak in us. Usually we favor the rich man over the poor man because we believe we can get more from the rich man. He can do favors for us that the poor man can’t.

Since riches are an obstacle to the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24), there is a sense in which God specially blesses the poor of this world.

Remember that Judas appeared to be much better leadership material than Peter.

God also never calls for partiality against the rich. If one must judge in a dispute between a rich man and a poor man, they should let the law and the facts of the case decide the judgment instead of the economic class of those in the dispute.

Our King Jesus put special emphasis on this command (Matthew 22:36-40) from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). James is reminding us that the poor man is just as much our neighbor as the rich man is.

James here guards us against a selective obedience, the sort that will pick and choose which commands of God should be obeyed and which can be safely disregarded.

The whole law must be kept if one will be justified by the law.

The mercy we show will be extended to us again on the day of judgment, and that mercy triumphs over judgment.

James is relating another principle of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:2).

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 5: 1 Peter 2:13-25

Summary of passage:  Peter says to submit ourselves to every authority instituted among men who are sent by him (God) to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.  And doing good will silence the ignorant.  Live as servants of God and do not use freedom as an excuse to do wrongs.  Respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.

Slaves submit yourselves to your masters whether good or bad.  It is commendable if you endure under unjust suffering because you are conscious of God to which you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.  Christ never retaliated or made threats.  Instead, he trusted God.  He died so that we may die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds we have been healed.

Questions:

13)  Peter says we are to obey authority instituted among men because governments have a rightful authority from God and as long as they are not doing anything against God’s laws then we must obey.  The Jews in this time did not believe they should obey those who did not hold their beliefs.

Today I see little to no respect for authority or the government (and definitely nothing close to submission).  Everything government related we grumble and complain.  For this I cannot blame people.  Government today is nothing like government was in Peter’s time.  I would be curious to hear what the apostles would say about our government today.

14)  Because he is conscious of God and it is a calling because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.

15)  Jesus did not retaliate or offer threats.  He entrusted himself to God and set the example that when we suffer we do so for God.

This question does not say personal so I’m assuming you is the plural form and not meant to be specific.  But I will just say I haven’t suffered unjustly as of yet to be honest.  Sure, I’ve suffered but who ever said it was supposed to be just?  Christ’s suffering wasn’t just so we shouldn’t expect our suffering to be just either.

Conclusions:  Again, I didn’t get a lot out of this.  Repetitive in the advice:  respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.  Anyone else getting tired of hearing this?

BSF questions are supposed to be where you are at and where I live there is no slavery (legally that is) so from my viewpoint it’s hard to relate to slavery and masters.  We are also a free society (to which could be argued but according to our Constitution we are free and definitely free when compared to Peter’s time) so submitting to government is hard to relate to as well since we’re not being asked to break God’s laws or being persecuted like Peter was under Roman authority.

In essence, applying this particular passage to my life (for I can’t speak for yours) is difficult.  The best part was how Christ suffered unjustly and thus we may as well and if we do we must endure for God’s sake.  This is something we all can relate to.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: 1 Peter 2:4-12

Summary of passage:  Peter says Jesus is the living stone who was rejected by men and chosen by God and precious to him and so are we (Christians) living stones being built into spiritual houses and holy priesthoods.  The stone (Jesus) is precious to believers as our cornerstone but unbelievers reject the stone and is now the capstone and a stone that causes those who disobey the message to stumble.

We are a chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation, belonging to God, and called into the light from the dark. We are God’s people out of His mercy and aliens and strangers in this world.  Abstain from sinful desires and live such good lives that the pagans will glorify God.

Questions:

9)  living, chosen, precious, cornerstone, capstone.  Living is eternal life, not death.  Chosen is preordained, not a randomness; planned out.  Precious is highly valued and esteemed; of high price and cherished.  Corner and cap are the descriptive terms attached to stone, which mean they are the key part.  The cornerstone forms the base of the corner of the building and the rest of the blocks depend on it in order to stand.  The capstone is a stone affixed on top of a building to cap it off; the final touches, achievement, stroke or culmination of the building.  So here Jesus is both the foundation on which the building stands and its crowning achievement at the top.

I don’t like the use of the word rightly here.  It implies there is a wrong way to respond, which if your heart is sincere, there isn’t.

10)  Christ causes men to stumble because they disobey the message.  It’s why we all stumble:  we turn our backs on Jesus, God, and His word and follow our will instead of His will.  Everyone trips up and falls but it’s whether we have Christ or not that determines if we are able to get back up and back on the right path–His path.  Or if we will keep stumbling our entire lives.

11)  Chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God, called into his light, people of God, received mercy.  They are all important but I like holy nation because being holy allows me to be with God, righteously.

12a)  If you are walking in Christ’s footsteps, you are living every day as an alien and stranger in this world for our home is in heaven, not on earth (see discussion HERE). We are God’s chosen people, separate from unbelievers, set aside for eternity.  The Holy Spirit lives within us; therefore, we are different and our lives should reflect that.  We live according to God, not others.  Thus, we should live in every way as an alien and a stranger.

b)  My missionary friend who truly walks with God every day.  She shines with God and inspires me to do the same.

Conclusions:  This lesson was only blase for me.  We just got done studying this in my other bible study and I see nothing new here.  It’s repetitive, which I know the Bible does a lot of so we mere humans get it, so it’s important.  But could be my mood today.  I guess I was hoping for more swords and shields rather than building analogies (I’m more of an action person rather than one who has the patience to design intricate buildings).

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 3: 1 Peter 1:13-2:3

Summary of passage:  Peter continues with advice on how to live, saying to prepare our minds for action, to be self-controlled, and have hope in Jesus.  Obediently, we must not conform to the evil desires of our old life but we must be holy in all that we do for we are called to be holy since God is holy.

We must live our lives as strangers here in reverent fear for we were redeemed from our old, empty way of life with the blood of Jesus Christ who was perfect.  We believe in God through him, giving us faith and hope in God.

So love one another deeply from the heart since we are pure from our obedience to Christ and God.  We are born again for all of eternity through the word of God as Isaiah taught.

Get rid of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander and feast on spiritual milk to grow in your salvation and in the Lord’s goodness.

Questions:

6a)  To be holy because He is holy.  Be holy in all that you do.  Prepare your minds (learn) and be self-controlled.  Set your minds fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus is revealed (remember it’s not about this life but the eternal life).  Do not conform to the world’s evil desires.

b)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, holy means, “Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness; divine; devoted entirely to the deity or the world of the deity.”

Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney defines holiness as, “The state of quality of being morally pure and separate from evil.”

Holy is perfect in goodness and righteousness.  Hence, we should strive to be perfect, good, righteous, morally pure, and separate from evil.

7)  In the Old Testament, to be cleansed of sins God’s chosen people had to make sacrifices, which had to be perfect and without blemish.  One of these sacrifices was the lamb.  Hence, Peter here is saying Jesus qualifies as a sacrifice for the people, a sacrifice for all of eternity.

Exodus 12 describes the first Passover and God says, “Each man is to take a lamb…The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect…all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them.”

Leviticus 23:12 “…you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect…”

Peter is propounding on how to live a Christian life, saying to live a life as strangers here on Earth and have faith and hope in God.  They were redeemed from the empty way of life through Christ Jesus just as the Old Testament people were redeemed, made righteous through animal sacrifices–only this time it’s permanent.  The people have been made pure so now they can lead a holy life.

It’s hard to speculate here how much the people would have understood the sacrifices since Peter is writing to Gentiles who had no previous experience with Old Testament ways; but I will assume they knew enough to get the analogy or Peter would not have put it in.

8a)  You are born again for all of eternity through faith in the word of God (which includes Jesus as the Holy Trinity).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer.  It was a process, definitely.  It wasn’t just one day it happened.  I was raised a Christian so have been one for a while but I am speaking of my adult walk, when I was cognizant of it.  So I’ve always had faith in Jesus and God but it wasn’t always strong.  So it’s been a journey of strengthening and learning who God is, what He did for me through Jesus, and trusting in Him for everything.  And when I felt ready, I was baptized as an adult a few years ago and have been striving for the “be holy” goal ever since.

Conclusions:  There is definitely a thread in this day’s questions I don’t see very often: the idea of holiness and what that looks like.  God calls us to be holy (perfect and apart from evil), Jesus was holy, and being born again is a process into holiness.  Very well done.

We are holy (God makes us so) and I think if we breathed that in more into our daily lives this world would be a much better, happier place.  For if we believe we are holy I think we will act more holy.  And only good things can come of us striving to be better people than who we are right now.  Striving to rid ourselves of all evil desires, malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander and instead strive to love our brothers more.