James 2:5
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
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(5) Hearken, my beloved brethren.—With complete change of manner the Apostle writes now as if he were speaking, in brief quivering sentences, appealing to the hearts which his stronger words may not compel.

Hath not God chosen . . .?—There is, then, an election on the part of God. It were folly to deny it. But this passage, like so many others, gives the reason for that choice. “The poor of this world” are His chosen; not merely for their poverty, although it may have been the air, so to speak, in which the virtues which endeared them to Him have flourished most. And these are rich for present and for future. They know Him “now by faith,” and “after this life have the fruition of His glorious Godhead.” “Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). The way thereto for them is nearer and less cumbered than for the rich, if only they fulfil the Scripture (comp. Matthew 6:3), and be poor “in spirit:” then, indeed, are they “heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him.” The world must always measure by its own standard, and consider poverty a curse, just as it looks on pain and trouble as evil. But the teaching of God, declared most eloquently in the life of His blessed Son, is the direct opposite to this. In a worship which demands of its votaries costly gifts and offerings—and every religion tends downwards to such desires—the rich man has a golden pavement to his future bliss. No wonder, therefore, that again and again the voice of the Spirit of God has pointed out the narrow way, and the eternal excellency of truth, and faith, and love, the riches easiest of acquisition by the poor.

James 2:5-7. Hearken — As if he had said, Stay, consider, ye that judge thus. Does not the presumption lie rather in favour of the poor man? Hath not God chosen the poor — That is, are not they whom God hath chosen, generally speaking, poor in this world, who yet are rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom — Consequently the most honourable of men? And those whom God so highly honours, ought not ye to honour likewise? But ye — Christians, that know better; have despised Ητιμασατε, have dishonoured, or disgraced; the poor — By such conduct. Do not rich men, &c. — As if he had said, You have little reason to show so much respect to them, if you consider what their carriage toward you has been; those whom you court with so much respect and assiduity, oppress Καταδυναστευουσιν, tyrannise over you, and draw — Or drag; you before the judgment-seats — Are not most of the rich men your persecutors, rather than your friends? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name — Of God and of Christ; by which ye are called — And which deserves to be had in the highest esteem and veneration by all intelligent beings? The apostle speaks chiefly of rich heathen: but are Christians, so called, a whit behind them in persecuting the disciples of Jesus?

2:1-13 Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.Hearken, my beloved brethren - The apostle now proceeds to show that the rich, as such, had no special claim on their favor, and that the poor in fact might be made more entitled to esteem than they were. For a view of the arguments by which he does this, compare the analysis of the chapter.

Hath not God chosen the poor of this world? - Those who are poor so far as this world is concerned, or those who have not wealth. This is the first argument which the apostle suggests why the poor should not be treated with neglect. It is, that God has had special reference to them in choosing those who should be his children. The meaning is not that he is not as willing to save the rich as the poor, for he has no partiality; but that there are circumstances in the condition of the poor which make it more likely that they will embrace the offers of the gospel than the rich; and that in fact the great mass of believers is taken from those who are in comparatively humble life. Compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. The fact that God has chosen one to be an "heir of the kingdom" is as good a reason now why he should not be treated with neglect, as it was in the times of the apostles.

Rich in faith - Though poor in this world's goods, they are rich in a higher and more important sense. They have faith in God their Saviour; and in this world of trial and of sin, that is a more valuable possession than piles of hoarded silver or gold. A man who has that is sure that he will have all that is truly needful for him in this world and the next; a man who has it not, though he may have the wealth of Croesus, will be utterly without resources in respect to the great wants of his existence.

"Give what thou wilt, without thee we are poor;

And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away."

Faith in God the Saviour will answer more purposes, and accomplish more valuable ends for man, than the wealth of the Indies could: and this the poor may have as well as the rich. Compare Revelation 2:9.

And heirs of the kingdom ... - Margin, "that." Compare the notes at Matthew 5:3.

5. Hearken—James brings to trial the self-constituted "judges" (Jas 2:4).

poor of this world—The best manuscripts read, "those poor in respect to the world." In contrast to "the rich in this world" (1Ti 6:17). Not of course all the poor; but the poor, as a class, furnish more believers than the rich as a class. The rich, if a believer, renounces riches as his portion; the poor, if an unbeliever, neglects that which is the peculiar advantage of poverty (Mt 5:3; 1Co 1:26, 27, 28).

rich in faith—Their riches consist in faith. Lu 12:21, "rich toward God." 1Ti 6:18, "rich in good works" (Re 2:9; compare 2Co 8:9). Christ's poverty is the source of the believer's riches.

kingdom … promised—(Lu 12:32; 1Co 2:9; 2Ti 4:8).

Hath not God chosen the poor? Not that God hath chosen all the poor in the world, but his choice is chiefly of them, 1 Corinthians 1:26,28. Poor he means in the things of this world, and in the esteem of worldly men; they are opposed to those that Paul calls rich in this world, 1 Timothy 6:17,18.

Rich: some insert the verb substantive to be between this and the former clause, and read: Hath not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich, &c. So Romans 8:29, predestinate to be conformed: the like defective speeches we find, John 12:46 2 Corinthians 3:6. And the verb understood here is expressed, Ephesians 1:4, after the same word we have in this text. And yet if we read the words as they stand in our translation, they do not prove that foresight of faith is previous to election, any more than that being heirs of the kingdom is so too.

In faith; either in the greatness and abundance of their faith, Matthew 15:28 Romans 4:20; or rather, rich in those privileges and hopes to which by faith they have a title.

And heirs of the kingdom; an instance of their being rich, in that they are to inherit a kingdom.

Which he hath promised to them that love him: see Jam 1:12, where the same words occur, only that which is here a kingdom, is there a crown.

Hearken, my beloved brethren,.... As to a matter of importance, and worthy of attention and regard; being an instance of the divine conduct towards the poor, and carries in it a strong argument against respect of persons:

hath not God chosen the poor of this world? this interrogative is equal to a strong affirmative; and the sense is, that God has chosen the poor of this world; and which is to be understood, not of the choice of them to an office, either in church or state; though sometimes this has been the case, as the instances of David, and the apostles of Christ, show; nor merely to the Gospel, and the outward means of grace, though the poor have the Gospel preached unto them; nor of the effectual calling, though this is true; but of eternal election, which is the act of God the Father, and passed before the foundation of the world; and is an act of sovereign grace, and is irrespective of faith, holiness, and good works; and is the source of all grace, and remains immutable and irrevocable: now the objects of this are, "the poor of this world"; that is, who are poor with respect to the things of this world, but not with respect to the things of another world; for they are chosen to be heirs of a kingdom, and shall enjoy it; though these are not all chosen by God, nor are they the only persons that are chosen; there are some poor men that are not chosen, and are miserable here and hereafter; and there are some rich men that are chosen; but for the most part, or generally speaking, they are not many mighty, nor noble, but the poorer sort, which God has made choice of to partake both of grace and glory. It may be the apostle has some peculiar respect to the poor among the Gentiles, whom God had chosen; it was usual with the Jews to call the Gentiles the world, and they were Jews the apostle now writes to, and who were scattered abroad among the Gentiles; and therefore he might very aptly call them "this world", among whom they lived; and suggest to them, that God had chosen some of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews, and even some of the poorer sort of them; and it was usual with the Jews to distinguish between , "the poor of Israel", and , "the poor of the world", or "the poor of the nations of the world" (u): the Alexandrian copy, and some others, leave out the word "this", and so the Syriac and Arabic versions, which makes the phrase more agreeable to the Jewish way of speaking. The Gentiles, in common, were despicable with the Jews, and especially the poor of them; and yet God chose these:

rich in faith; not that they were so, or were considered as such, when chosen, and so were chosen because of their faith; for then also they were, or were considered as heirs of the kingdom, which would be monstrously absurd; and yet there is as much reason, from the text, for the one, as for the other; but the sense is, that they were chosen "to be rich in faith"; and so the Syriac version supplies in the next clause, "that they might be heirs"; which if it had been placed before this clause also, would have been right; election to grace is signified in the one, and election to glory in the other: men are chosen, not because they do believe, or shall believe, but that they might believe; and which faith they have in consequence of election; and which when they have, they are rich: faith is a rich precious grace itself; it is a part of the riches of grace, and is more worth than thousands of gold and silver; and it is the means of receiving and enjoying much riches, as Christ the pearl of great price himself, and all spiritual blessings along with him; such as the rich robe of his righteousness, full pardon of sin, which is according to the riches of his grace, and adoption, which makes men heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and even the eternal inheritance itself, both the promise of it, and a right unto it; all which are said to be received by faith; and therefore believers, how poor soever they may be, to this world's goods, are truly rich men:

and heirs of the kingdom; of glory, which is prepared for all the chosen ones, from the foundation of the world; and is freely given to them by their Father, and to which they are called in the effectual calling; and hence they are made kings and priests unto God, and have crowns and thrones provided for them: the Alexandrian copy reads, "heirs of the promise which he hath promised to them that love him"; that is, which God has promised them, as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read; not that their love to God is the cause of this kingdom, or of their choice to it, or of the promise of it to them; all which flow from the love of God to them; but this is descriptive of the persons who shall enjoy it, and may expect to enjoy it, as in James 1:12.

(u) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 30. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 10. 2.

{2} Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the {d} poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

(2) He shows that those who prefer the rich over the poor are wicked and disobedient judges, since God on the other hand prefers the poor (whom he has enriched with true riches) over the rich.

(d) The needy and wretched, and (if we measure it after the opinion of the world) the most degraded of all men.

Jam 2:5. With this verse the proof of the reprehensibleness of the conduct found fault with commences: James showing that the conduct toward the poor is in contradiction with the mercy of God directed to the poor, and that the conduct toward the rich is in contradiction with their conduct toward Christians. The impressive exhortation to attention precedes ἀκούσατε with the address ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί; see chap. Jam 1:16; Jam 1:19. The proof itself (as in Jam 2:4) is expressed in a lively manner in the form of a question: Has not God chosen those who are the poor of the world (i.e. accounted as such) to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him?

The verb ἐξελέξατο is to be retained in its usual acceptation, in that which it has in 1 Corinthians 1:27. Wiesinger, without sufficient reason, will understand it here as equivalent to “God has so highly honoured the poor;” and Lange incorrectly maintains that “the word here rather signifies calling with reference to ethical good behaviour to the divine revelation.”

The correct reading: τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ, is to be explained in the same manner as the expressions ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ, Acts 7:20, and δυνατὰ τῷ Θεῷ, 2 Corinthians 10:4 (see Meyer on these passages, and Winer, p. 190 [E. T. 265]; Al. Buttmann, p. 156 [E. T. 179]). The world esteems those as poor who possess no visible earthly riches. Wiesinger prefers to explain the dative as the dative of reference, thus “poor in respect of the world;” yet the former explanation, which also Brückner and Lange adopt, in which ὁ Θεός and τῷ κόσμῳ form a sharp contrast, is more appropriate, and more in correspondence with the meaning of the word κόσμος with James. In the Receptus πτωχοὺς τοῦ κόσμου the genitive is to be understood as in the expression τὰ μωρὰ τοῦ κόσμου, etc., 1 Corinthians 1:27; see Meyer in loco.

πλουσίους ἐν πίστει] is not in apposition with τοὺς πτωχοὺς (Luther, Baumgarten, Semler, Hottinger, Gebser, Bouman, Lange, and others),[114] but the completion of ἐξελέξατο, stating to what God has chosen the poor (Beza, Wolf, Morus, Knapp, Storr, Schneckenburger, Kern, Theile, de Wette, Wiesinger, and others); see 2 Corinthians 3:6.

By ἐν πίστει, as in the expression πλούσιος ἐν ἐλέει, Ephesians 2:4 (see 1 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:18), the object is not stated wherein they are rich (Luther: “who are rich in the faith”), but the sphere within which riches is imparted to them; similarly Wiesinger explains it: “rich in their position as believers.” James wished primarily to mark the contrast that the poor are appointed to be rich, namely, so far as they are believers; the context gives the more exact statement of their riches: riches in the possessions of the heavenly kingdom is meant; this the following clause indicates.

Calvin: non qui fidei magnitudine abundant, sed quos Deus variis Spiritus sui donis locupletavit, quae fide percipimus.[115]

The expression ἡ βασιλεία occurs also elsewhere, without the addition of ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ or similar terms, as a designation of the kingdom of God, e.g. Matthew 13:38. No stress rests on the article τῆς (= ἘΚΕΊΝΗς), as the relative Ἧς referred to it. The relative clause serves not for a more definite statement of the idea ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑ, as if by it this βασιλεία was to be distinguished from another, but the statement ἘΞΕΛ.… ΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟΥς Τ. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑς is confirmed, as a kingdom founded on the promise of God.

From the expressions ΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟς and ἘΠΗΓΓΕΊΛΑΤΟ of the relative clause, it is evident that James considered here ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑ as the future perfected kingdom of God, not “the joint participation in the ΥἹΟΘΕΣΊΑ of the Jews” (Lange). On Ἧς ἘΠΗΓΓΕΊΛΑΤΟ Κ.Τ.Λ. see the remark on Jam 1:12. The addition of this clause shows that with James faith and love to God are most closely connected.

James puts ΤΟῪς ΠΤΏΧΟΥς, to whom ΟἹ ΠΛΟΎΣΙΟΙ are opposed, as the object of ἘΞΕΛΈΞΑΤΟ. He accordingly (the article is not to be overlooked) divides men into these two classes, the poor and the rich, and designates, not the latter, but the former, as those whom God has chosen and appointed to be rich in faith,[116] namely, to be heirs of the kingdom; not as if all the poor received the κληρονομία, but his meaning is that those whom God has chosen belong to this class, whereas those belonging to the class of the rich had not been chosen. James did not require to point out the truth of this statement; the Christians, to whom he wrote, were a living testimony of it, for they all belonged to that class; and although some among them were πλούσιοι, yet, on the one hand, what Christ says in Matthew 19:23-26 holds good, and, on the other hand, 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 is to be compared.

With this divine choice the conduct of his readers stood in direct contradiction when they treated a poor man—thus one who belonged to the class of those chosen by God—contemptuously, and that on account of his poverty. What directly follows expresses this contradiction.

[114] If πλουσίους is taken as in apposition, then here riches in faith forms the reason of the choice; but by this the keenness of the thought contained in the oxymorum is entirely blunted: it is also arbitrary to separate the two ideas πλουσίους and κληρονόμους united by καί.

[115] Kern: ἐν πίστει indicates that it is faith itself which makes the Christian inwardly rich.

[116] It is to be observed that ἐξελέξατο does not here refer only to πλουσίους, as if πίστις were to be considered as the condition on which the πτωχοί were chosen to be rich, but to the combined expression πλουσίους ἐν πίστει, so that also πίστις is to be considered as an effect of the divine choice. The same view lies at the foundation of what Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:30 (see Meyer in loco) and elsewhere often expresses.

Jam 2:5. Ἀκούσατε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί: This expression, which one would expect to hear rather in a vigorous address, reveals the writer as one who was also an impassioned speaker; cf. in the same spirit, the frequent ἀδελφοί, and especially, ἄγε νῦν, Jam 4:13, Jam 5:1.—ἐξελέξατο: a very significant term in the mouth of a Jew when addressing Jews; cf. Deuteronomy 14:1-2, Υἱοί ἐστε Κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶνὅτι λαὸς ἅγιος εἶ Κυρίῳ τῷ Θεῷ σου, καὶ σὲ ἐξελέξατο Κύριος ὁ θεός σου γενέσθαι σε αὐτῷ λαὸν περιούσιονcf. Acts 13:17; 1 Corinthians 1:27. There is an interesting saying in Chag. 9b where it is said that poverty is the quality most befitting Israel as the chosen people.—πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ: i.e., poor in the estimation of the world; the reading τοῦ κόσμου or ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ τούτῳ loses this point; cf. Matthew 10:9; Luke 6:20.—πλουσίους ἐν πίστει: “Oblique predicate” (Mayor). In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Gad. vii. 6 we read: “For the poor man, if, free from envy, he pleaseth the Lord in all things, is blessed beyond all men” (the Greek text reads πλουτεῖ which Charles holds to be due to a corruption in the original Hebrew text which reads יְאֻשַּׁר = μακαριστός ἐστι). See, for the teaching of our Lord, Matthew 6:19; Luke 12:21. Πίστις is used here rather in the sense of trust than in the way in which it is used in Jam 2:1.—κληρονόμους τῆς βασιλείας: the Kingdom must refer to that of the Messiah, see Jam 5:7-9, and Matthew 25:35, δεῦτε οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου κληρονομήσατε τὴν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, but not Matthew 5:3 which treats of a different subject. It is of importance to remember that the Messianic Kingdom to which reference is made in this verse was originally, among the Jews, differentiated from the “future life” which is apparently referred to in Jam 1:12, … λήμψεται τὸν στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς, ὃν ἐπηγγείλατο τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτόν. There was a distinction, fundamentally present, though later on confused, in Jewish theology, between the “Kingdom of Heaven” over which God reigns, and that of the Kingdom of Israel over which the Messiah should reign. An integral part of the Messianic hope was the doctrine of a resurrection (cf. Isaiah 24:10; Daniel 12:2). This first assumed definite form, apparently, under the impulse of the idea that those who had suffered martyrdom for the Law (Torah) were worthy to share in the future glories of Israel. In the crudest form of the doctrine the resurrection was confined to the Holy Land—those buried elsewhere would have to burrow through the ground to Palestine—and to Israelites. And the trumpet-blast which was to be the signal for the ingathering of the exiles would also arouse the sleeping dead (cf. Berachoth, 15b, 4 Ezra 4:23 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). According to the older view, the Kingdom was to follow the resurrection and judgment; but the later and more widely held view was that a temporary Messianic Kingdom would be established on the earth, and that this would be followed by the Last Judgment and the Resurrection which would close the Messianic Era. This was to be followed by a new heaven and a new earth. In the eschatological development which took place during the first century B.C. Paradise came to be regarded as the abode of the righteous and elect in an intermediate state; from there they will pass to the Messianic Kingdom, and then, after the final judgment they enter heaven and eternal life. In our Epistle there are some reflections of these various conceptions and beliefs, but they have entered into a simpler and more spiritual phase. That the reference in the verse before us is to the Messianic Kingdom seems indubitable both on account of the mention of the “Lord Jesus Christ” (Messiah) with which the section opens, showing that the thought of our Lord was in the mind of the writer, and because of the mention of the “Kingdom,” and also on account of the direct mention of the coming of the Messiah as Judge, later on in Jam 5:7-9. And if this is so then we may perhaps see in the words ὁ θεὸς ἐξελέξατο a reference to Christ.

5. Hath not God chosen …] Better, perhaps, did not God choose? as referring to the special election of the poor by Christ as the heirs of blessings and the messengers of His Kingdom (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; comp. also 1 Corinthians 1:27).

the poor of this world] Literally, in this world, i. e. “as far as this world is concerned.”

rich in faith] The construction of the words is (to use a technical phrase) that of a secondary predicate, “God had chosen the poor in this world as, i.e. to be, rich in faith, as in the region in which they lived and moved.”

heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised …] Here, as before (ch. James 1:12), it is scarcely possible to exclude a direct reference to the words of Christ, as in Luke 6:20; Luke 12:31-32, and so we get indirect proof of a current knowledge, at the early period at which St James wrote, of teaching that was afterwards recorded in the written Gospels. Some of the better MSS., however, give “heirs of the promise.”

to them that love him?] Care is taken not to lead men to suppose that poverty itself, apart from spiritual conditions, was a sufficient title to the inheritance. There must be the love of God which has its root in faith. What is pressed is that poverty and not wealth was the true object of respect; partly as predisposing men to the spiritual conditions, partly as having been singled out by Christ for special blessings.

Jam 2:5. Ἀκούσατε, hearken) By this address he brings to trial and restrains rash judges, showing that the presumption ought to be in favour of the poor, rather than the rich.—ὁ Θεὸς, God) Our judgment ought to be in conformity with the judgment of God, even in ceremonies and outward gestures.—ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς, chose the poor) They who are chosen, are needy. This description does not include all the poor, nor is it confined to the poor only; for poverty and riches of themselves do not render any man good or evil; and yet the poor are in various places pronounced happy in preference to the rich: ch. Jam 5:1. And the terms, wicked and rich, righteous and poor, are generally synonymous. Isaiah 53:9; Amos 2:6; Amos 5:12. The rich man, if he is good, renounces his riches; the poor man, if he is wicked, neglects that which is the advantage of poverty. Many Christians were of the poor, few from among the rich; especially at Jerusalem, and among those to whom James writes. Comp. the notes on ch. Jam 5:1 and following verses. So also, 1 Corinthians 1:27, God hath chosen, etc.—πλουσίους ἐν πίστει, καὶ κληρονόμους, rich in faith, and heirs) Beza thus explains it: He chose the poor, that they might become rich in faith, and heirs, etc. E. Schmid thus takes it: He chose the poor, who are however rich in faith, to be also heirs, etc. The latter puts asunder two points which are most intimately connected, rich and heirs. The former, contrary to the design of the apostle, places faith and love after election. For James treats concerning the order of election, faith, and love, just as that order becomes known to us: and moreover he thus furnishes us with a rule for forming a right judgment respecting the poor; in which point of view not only faith, but also love, precedes election in the order of our knowledge. The meaning of the apostle is this: God chose the poor, who are rich in faith, and who are also heirs, etc. Whence this argument is derived: “Whoever are rich in faith and heirs, them we ought to acknowledge and treat as chosen by God; but the poor are rich in faith,” etc. Thus election is so far from preceding faith, that even the inheritance precedes election; and if we duly consider the antithesis between He chose, and ye have despised, this conclusion presents itself. Both God highly esteems, and we ought to have highly esteemed, those who are rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom.—ἐν πίστει, in faith) which has for its object the Lord of glory. To this faith are assigned as a consequence the riches of heaven and of the world to come, even as the inheritance is assigned to love.—κληρονόμους, heirs) because sons.—τῆς βασιλείας, of the kingdom) The highest dignity.

Verses 5-9. - Proof of the sinfulness of respect of persons. Verse 5. - Hearken (ἀκούσατε). This has been noticed as a coincidence with the speech of St. James in Acts 15:13. It is, however, too slight to be worth much (cf. Acts 7:2; Acts 13:16; Acts 22:1). For τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, read τῷ κόσμῳ (א, A, B, C), "poor as to the world;" perhaps "in the estimation of the world." These God chose (to be) rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, etc. The kingdom; mentioned here only by St. James (and even here, א, A read ἐπαγγελίας); cf. νόμον βασιλικόν in ver. 8. Which he hath promised. As Dean Plumptre has pointed out, "it is scarcely possible to exclude a direct reference to the words of Christ, as in Luke 6:20; Luke 12:31, 32; and so we get indirect proof of a current knowledge, at the early period at which St. James wrote, of teaching which was afterwards recorded in the written Gospels." James 2:5Hearken, my beloved brethren

Alford cites this phrase as one of the very few links which connect this epistle with the speech of James in Acts 15:13.

The poor of this world (τοὺς πτωχοὺς τοῦ κόσμου)

But the correct reading is τῷ κόσμῳ, to the world; and the expression is to be explained in the same way as ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ, fair unto God, Acts 7:20, and δυνατὰ τῷ Θεῷ, mighty through (Rev., before) God, 2 Corinthians 10:4. So Rev., poor as to the world, in the world's esteem. Poor, see on Matthew 5:3.

Rich in faith

The Rev., properly, inserts to be, since the words are not in apposition with poor, but express the object for which God has chosen them. Faith is not the quality in which they are to be rich, but the sphere or element; rich in their position as believers. "Not the measure of faith, in virtue of which one man is richer than another, is before the writer's mind, but the substance of the faith, by virtue of which every believer is rich" (Wiesinger, cited by Alford).

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