My brothers, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.…
I. Observe — A RELATIONSHIP. The apostle addresses them as his "brethren."
1. So they were, nationally; they were Jews as well as himself.
2. They were his "brethren" naturally partaking of the same humanity with him.
3. They were his "brethren" graciously. Here a nobler relation is gendered, and this comprehends all that "worship God in the Spirit, who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and who have no confidence in the flesh."
4. They were His "brethren" impartially, without any distraction; that is, He was regardless of everything that might seem to render them unworthy the privilege as to conditions, or gifts, or office.
II. Here is A CHARACTER. "The Lord of glory." You well know to whom this belongs; and this is not the only place where this title is given; for Paul, streaking of the princes of this world, said, "None of them knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Isaiah (Isaiah 33:21) makes use of a similar term as applied to the blessed God Himself. The radical idea of glory is brilliancy; the second idea is excellency displayed; and there are three ways in which this character will apply to our Lord and Saviour.
1. He is "the Lord of glory" because of His personal excellencies. "He is fairer than the children of men; He is the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." All the glory of creatures, whether in earth or in heaven, in their aggregate, is nothing more to His glory than a drop to the ocean, or a beam to the sun.
2. He is called "the Lord of glory," because He produces and confers all the excellencies possessed by creatures. "By Him kings reign, and princes decree justice." "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."
3. There is a world made up entirely of excellencies and glory, when nothing else is to be found, and of that world He is the only Sovereign, the only Disposer.
III. A PECULIAR ENDOWMENT. "The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ." Not that we have this faith in equal possession and exercise with Him. No, in all things He had the pre-eminence. He received the Spirit without measure, and in every one of its graces He excelled.
1. But the apostle does not speak here of the faith He possessed and exercised, but of that faith, first, of which He was the Author. He is called, "The Author and the Finisher of faith," and this is as true of the graces of faith as of the doctrine of faith.
2. When the apostle speaks of the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, he means, secondly, that of which He is the Object. Therefore, they that believe are said to believe in Him.
IV. A PROHIBITION "Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect to persons." This regards, not its character, but its perversion; its abuse, and not its nature. "Have it not," says James; that is, let it never be so seen in you, let it never be so exercised in you. Here, however, it will be necessary to observe that there is a lawful respect of persons, and there is an unlawful one. The thing, therefore, is not forbidden in every instance, and in every measure and degree. For, in the first place, it is impossible to respect some persons. You will never feel towards a Nero as you would towards a Howard. And if it were possible, it would be improper. The Scripture justifies the distinctions and inequalities of life, and rank and office are to be regarded. But the meaning here is that other things being equal, you should not show more regard to one person than to another, because of some things belonging to him which have no relation to cases of duty or conscience. Let us exemplify the thing four ways.
1. The first is judicially. In a case of this kind pending, how very improper it would be to be lenient to the rich and severe to the poor!
2. The second class we call ministerial. If God blesses the labours of a minister to your soul, you will esteem such; but you are not to make an idol of straw. You should regard all the servants of God as equal; you are to view them in reference to their Master — in reference to their commission — in reference to their place and office — as all respectable, and equally regarded by God.
3. The third class we call ecclesiastical. Here we might refer to the terms of admission into the Church of God, and to the table of the Lord. These ought not to be rigid and severe, but whatever they may be, they ought to be equally applied to the high and the low, to the rich and to the poor.
4. The last class we call denominational. All should belong to some Christian community; but you should never suppose that the party you have joined have all the truth, and that nothing is to be done without them. Let us never forbid others because they walk not with us. To conclude, let us learn then to judge of men regardless of adventitious circumstances. Let our inquiry be, What are they morally? what are they spiritually? Thus may we resemble the citizens of Zion, of whom it is said, in their view a vile person is contemned, while those who fear the Lord are honoured.
Parallel VersesKJV: My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.