Chapter
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Verse

James 2:2

ESV For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
NIV Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
NASB For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and is dressed in bright clothes, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in,
CSB For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in,
NLT For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.
KJV For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

What does James 2:2 mean?

In the previous verse, James urged his Christian readers to avoid favoritism towards one group of people over another. Specifically, the rich over the poor. Why would anyone do such a thing? As we'll see, the temptation is to treat wealthy, powerful people well in hopes of earning their favor. In some cases, it's as simple as hoping to receive some of their money. Poor people can't do much for us, after all, at least not materially. But these are extremely worldly, non-Christian attitudes. James means for those who claim to trust in Christ to treat everyone well.

In verse 2, James begins to describe an example of when believers might be tempted to favor one person based only on wealth. He poses the idea of a rich man and a poor man, both attending the "assembly," meaning the gathering of Christians. This refers to what we would think of as a church service, where Christians would gather to worship God and hear from His Word. Some scholars suggest this might be a reference to some other kind of meeting, where Christians gathered to resolve disputes.

In either case, these two men are very different. One shows all the signs of earthly wealth: expensive jewelry and clothing. The other is wearing ratty clothing. How will the assembled believers treat these two men based only on their external appearances? James continues that thought in the following verses.
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