Partiality—respect of persons—favoritism.
(Another “mini study” designed to go through rather quickly (depending on the individual) by just reading the Scriptures involved.)
The Bible, depending on the translation being used, put these three as all meaning the same thing. What does the Bible reveal about this issue of showing partiality? Is it a sin or not?
Is this subject of partiality a sin that could possibly be practiced ignorantly, even among the ministry as well as members of the scattered COG today? We need to understand this concept from God’s perspective and what is written in the Bible. How serious is this to God and is it really described in Scripture as sin?
Let us put this another way. Could you recognize an agent of Satan, a wolf in sheep’s clothing among you, one who may deliberately practice partiality, along with other subtle sins such as manipulations and malice toward some—but comes across in all other aspects of life as a really “nice person”? Hopefully that would not be a close personal friend or even a mate or family member; perhaps even your minister, but sometimes even that does happen. Can men and women like this function in the congregations of the COG and subtly deceive people, by twisting and manipulating certain Scriptures to suit their own agenda or life style? They have, sad to say, all down through time! Of course we all are still imperfect in some way and grow Spiritually at different paces—but we must strive to be honest as true converts, especially with the truth of Scripture. That tends to set the pattern or help determine our “fruits” that others may see after a period of time. When you find someone who is willing to “bend the rules” just a little for themselves, a friend or family member here and there, perhaps a long-time acquaintance or even minister, does that seem like any sin to you? Most people may not like it—but seldom see the act of showing favoritism or partiality as a sin that violates the Law of God. But the important thing is what does God say?
Jesus Christ lived His life as an example to us all. He is our teacher and in order to be “Christian” we have to be His followers and following the Scriptural guidelines given, to the best of our ability. Yet, many today, even in the COG, are obviously oblivious to Satan cunningly working in their midst and do not recognize an egregious or sinful attack against other brethren and even the written word of God on some points, because they are slumbering! That is how these subtle wolves in sheep’s clothing are able to remain! Those who do not recognize such a thing as partiality also forget there are also female wolves in sheep’s clothing that are very subtle deceivers as well, even if they are not behind the lectern and preaching. The sin of partiality does not care who carries it around, as long as it is able to affect someone else and hurt them. God never condones sin and an example that directly relates this is; 3 Jn 9-10 “I have written something to the church; but Diot'rephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. (This was the apostle John, appointed an apostle by Christ Himself and having authority as an appointed leader in the COG) V.10 So if I come, I will bring up (Expose-Eph.5:10-14) what he is doing, prating against me with evil words.—(NKJ says “malicious words”)— And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them (true brethren) and puts them out of the church.” (RSV) This man put people out of the Church who acted with Christian character and knew this Diotrephes was acting in a sinful nature toward other true Christians! This is a type of satanic favoritism or partiality that is of a malicious nature, as shown here, so why would it be tolerated among true Christians? Yet it seemingly was by many, for fear they may become a target and also become a castaway. Please think about the things this study reveals about partiality for your own spiritual well-being, showing God you will not be a lukewarm compromising person who will tolerate sin.
Before actually going into the scriptural content on partiality, let us look at some scriptures of this being done by implication; Matt 23:4-6 "For they (religious leaders of the day) bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men.--- 6 "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,”—The scribes and Pharisees were setting themselves as the preeminent, just as Diotrephes was doing. (This goes on today as well, by many.) Christ called them hypocrites several times, and Christ viewed some of them as Satan’s agents and warned His disciples to be watching for them. (Matt.7:15-23) Christ said to them, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44) Christ knew those people’s heart was of a wrong spirit and other passages of Scripture reveal that some were envious of Him to the point of having a murderous heart! It is just as easy for this to be recognized today, by the alert with Christ living in those being led by the Spirit of God.
Remember these inspired words that John wrote, telling us Scripture cannot be broken, and then the passage that Jesus Christ never changes! (John10:35—Heb.13:8) What was truth yesterday is still truth today. Check and then believe what your Bible reveals on the subject of partiality, then cling to that truth and try to never make compromises with it! We are in the age of lukewarm compromise! Do not allow yourself to become “lukewarm” in your approach to partiality or individuals who may knowingly be guilty of this sin! Get away from their wrong influence if it is at all possible for you to do so and trust God for guidance thru His Spirit. Now to our subject;
Can we in the COG (anyone led by the Spirit of God and trying to be Christian) see from the Scriptures that we should not ever show partiality for even the unconverted family member over others, or personal friends or even a fellow minister in the COG?
Below are several answers from God’s written Word that should help us understand the truth of this. And except for occasional comments, God’s Word will do the answering of these questions. I hope you will believe what your Bible reveals on this subject and grasp the intended meaning! (Translations vary in the wording, so we are using the NKJ unless otherwise noted)
1 "You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.
3 "You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.” (It seems that these are all put in the same category—“you shall not” is commonly known as a command from God.)
Lev 19:15 'You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.”
Deut 1:17 'You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man's presence, for the judgment is God's.”
Deut 10:17-18 "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
18 "He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.”
Deut 16:19 "You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” (Remember, Satan is the father of lies and blinds people to the truth, when possible. (2Cor.4:3-4) He passes truth off as error and errors off as truth—his human agents do the same.)
2 Chr 19:7 "Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes."
Comment; It should be clear from just these verses above that if anyone teaches or is found deliberately showing partiality to or for another, that individual does not believe or understand these words. Anyone who conceals such a man or who sides with him, to the hurt or discouragement of other brethren is also guilty of showing partiality and therefore partakes of that same sin. (1Tim.5:21-22) According to the word of God, COG leaders should take action quickly against such sins, especially if found in the ministry, instead of winking it away or turning a blind eye to it. Note this; Eccl 8:11-13 “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”
These verses above lay the foundation of truth on how to be dealing with deliberate partiality, but please continue the study for more Scriptural content on the subject, as there is much more.
Does the book of Job say anything about partiality that would make it seem to be okay with God?
Job 13:7-9 “Will you speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for Him? (God would never have anyone do this) 8 Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God? (Again, God does not need anyone to do this.) 9 Will it be well when He searches you out? Or can you mock Him as one mocks a man? (These question seem to be asked in a wrong attitude or approach, but the point is consistent with all Scripture on this subject, noting the next verse. Any emphasis most likely are added by the editor to bring out the point.)
Job 13:10 “He will surely reprove you if you secretly show partiality.” (This makes clear even the inward man secretly committing this act does not go un-noticed by God.)
Job 32:21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; nor let me flatter any man.
Job 34:17-19 Should one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn Him who is most just? 18 Is it fitting to say to a king, 'You are worthless,' and to nobles, 'You are wicked'? 19 Yet He (God) is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands.
Job 37:24 Therefore men fear Him; He (God) shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart."
Do we find anything in the book of Psalms or Proverbs about partiality being of a wrong nature, as we move forward?
Ps 82:2 How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Selah (This passage is an indictment from God against those who judge unjustly and show partiality. God is never unjust in judgment so those who do so are not led by the Spirit of God.)
Prov 18:5 It is not good to show partiality to the wicked, or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
Prov 24:23 These things also belong to the wise: it is not good to show partiality in judgment.
Prov 28:21 To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. (This passage indicates that a hungry man is more likely to commit this or any other sin to satisfy his/her lusts)
Some do not seem to be able to distinguish or understand what partiality is or that it is sin ; clearly revealed by some of these verses, but it is clear they are saying it is not “good” to show partiality, meaning it is “bad” to do it. If it is not good to show partiality, would God ever do it? NO! God never shows partiality as is clearly being revealed. Unlike someone not yet having come to believe partiality to be sin, we can see that God clearly shows us through all of these Scriptures seen thus far, that it is not pleasing to Him to show partiality in any kind of judgment. He clearly states we are to show no partiality, or preferential treatment to some, as we will see later on. We also see, from the book of Proverbs, that it is considered in God’s eyes to be an abomination when someone does show favoritism or partiality in judgment and in doing so justifies a wicked person or condemns the upright. Read the verse below, as it clearly portrays a judgment call and how God feels about this.
Prov 17:15 “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, (As the Jews did with Christ & Diotrephes seemed to be doing) both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.” (Were the Jews also guilty of this when they condemned Christ and let a wicked person go free?) How would someone “justify” the wicked? Let us be clear on this. We will stick to the principle of letting God answer this. Below are a few Scriptures that can be helpful, but maybe it would be helpful to look at a couple other translations of this same verse also.
Prov 17:15 “The Lord despises those who say that bad is good and good is bad.”(TLB)
Prov 17:15 “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-- the LORD detests them both.” (NIV)
It should be very obvious that God will not show His continued goodness and grace, or even mercy, to those who hatch evil plans or twist His truth to deceive and harm others, even in ignorance, without repentance of doing so! (James 2:13) In God’s own time they will receive their just reward for their sin, as these other verses show. Prov 17:13 “Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.” God does not take these things lightly and sometimes punishment can come very quickly! Isa 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” V. 23 “Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man! V. 24 “Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom will ascend like dust; because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (This is something to take seriously for those called into the COG who may get caught up or pulled into this by others. We have to get away from that kind of evil influence in order to hold fast to truth and keep our minds on the straight and narrow path. This suggests that any true Christian must strive to make right choices which are based on what the Bible reveals and begin to follow through on those for the rest of their lives.)
Are there any other examples in the Old Testament showing partiality to be contradictory to God’s ways?
Mal 2:9 "Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in the law."
Comment; This is also another passage that shows God will even hold those in the ministry or “priesthood” accountable for showing partiality! Read the context of this in the previous verses in your own Bible, and you will see this to be true. Also, see Jer.23:1-2, 11 in the KJV for an indictment from God to those ministers (pastors) who are guilty of scattering God’s flock! Partiality is most likely a sin that is being committed by many today who consider themselves to be leaders. They do this sometimes by showing partiality to other ministers (close friends or colleagues) who may also be doing wrong things, instead of correcting them. (See Eph.5:8-14 & 1Cor.14:30-33—IN connection with 1Tim.5:19-21.)
Going now to the NT, is there any example where Christ would show partiality to anyone and perhaps changed this, when He came in the flesh?
Matt 22:16 (NAS) And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.” (Even the unconverted seemed to recognize this character in Christ)
Mark 12:14 (NAS) And they came and said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.”
Luke 20:21 (RSV) They asked him, "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.”
Comment; Some may have the belief that Christ was being partial to His own disciples, but this could not be true, as it would contradict these many passages of Scripture we have seen thus far. Anyone knowingly practicing partiality and deceiving others into believing it is okay for them to do so, cannot be led by God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not lead into this type of behavior, as John was inspired to write.
I Jn 2:11 “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” I Jn 3:10 “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”
There are some long time ministers in the COG today who have never learned this truth. Some still think they can pick and choose friends from among the ministry and even some members of the COG and show favoritism to them, not really knowing that they are committing this sin of partiality in doing so. This seems to be a violation of the second great commandment (as will be seen later) and Christ commanded His disciples to love one another as He has loved us. (John 13:34-35) No true minister of Jesus Christ would knowingly practice partiality, as these Scriptures seem to prove positively that it is a wrong character trait to have and goes against the doctrines of the Bible.
After Christ was resurrected and ascended into heaven, did the apostles and the apostolic era of the COG continue to teach that God does not show partiality?
Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”
(This is the incident where God first revealed that gentiles would be brought into the fold and could also become first fruits and be in the first resurrection by being given the Holy Spirit.)
Rom 2:11 (From Paul) “For there is no partiality with God.” (Note this is seven words—a complete doctrine.)
Gal 2:6 (RSV) And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)-- those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me;
Eph 6:9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Col 3:25 But he (Or she) who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
(Comment on the above verse;) Notice the words “Or she” are added because it applies to each individual Christian. Some women are far more prone to unwittingly practice this sin for the sake of a close family member who may not be converted. (see definition below and the article “Heart of deceit” for more.) When the ministry becomes involved and it comes to making a right judgment and showing no partiality in which they fail, it makes it even more difficult for others to see this action as a sin. Vines expository dictionary gives an interesting definition for words in this verse;
PERSONS (RESPECT OF) --“the fault of one who, when responsible to give (Or make) judgment, has respect to the position, rank, popularity, or circumstances of men, instead of their intrinsic conditions”,--- the definition for the word “he” clearly applies to both male and female and should properly be worded “the Christian” or one who seeks to become one. That is the true meaning and intent of what Paul is bringing out. Abraham, the “father of the faithful” was required to show his intent to obey God at even sacrificing his only son through Sarah. Gen.22:10)
1 Tim 5:21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. (See comments on questions # 4 & 5)
(As seven is completion, we conclude with this seventh question.)
Is there any Scripture that specifically says that partiality is a sin, therefore proving God or Christ would absolutely never show partiality, nor would they condone anyone doing so? Read these last passages and you will find the answer.
James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.”
Some, without seeing the many other Scriptures we have looked at may ask, why not or what does this mean?
Answer; Because partiality is not based on Godly love nor does it come from the divine nature! Christ never shows partiality and so one can ever be showing partiality and at the same time still expressing the “faith of Christ”! This would be counter-productive to Christian character & Spiritual growth. Thus Godly love and partiality are opposites. Paul tells us; Titus 1:1-2 “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth (Includes all we have seen about partiality) which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,-- ” (These Scriptures show God and Christ cannot lie, so we must believe these verses would also relate to the issue of partiality!)
James 2:4 “have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (Malicious and deliberate partiality seems to come from evil thoughts or intent and is SIN, which would not be knowingly practiced in one exercising the faith of Christ and following the lead of the Holy Spirit! John 16:13 shows the Spirit will guide into all truth and that would certainly cover the passages we are reviewing on partiality.)
James 2:9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (1John 3:4)
There it is my friends, Scripture showing partiality is a sin and the practice of lawlessness, as James was inspired to write!
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above (From GOD) is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. (No righteous person being led by the Holy Spirit and wanting to obey God would ever knowingly practice or teach anyone that partiality is good or right and not sinful or an “evil practice”, nor would the Holy Spirit lead them to say that God Himself shows partiality at times! This should be an open and recognizable contradiction to the word of God, by those who are being guided by the Holy Spirit.)
1 Pet 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
As was explained in the introduction, partiality can manifest itself in various ways and be unrecognizable by the unlearned or deliberately neglectful. When looking up the word “partiality” in the dictionary, it does not give much other than “unfair or bias”. However the Thesaurus gives some synonyms we can learn even more from! (This is aside from what we have already seen (from nearly one end of the Bible to the other) by just using the word partiality, so we will do that, here in the conclusion.
One of the main words that comes up as synonyms for partiality and is at the top of the list is “bias”, but under it we find these words; prejudice, unfairness, preconceived notion, foregone conclusion, favoritism, predisposition, -- Just from the dictionary alone, any person led by the mind of God (Phil.2:5) can tell that God would never show partiality, because God is never unfair or prejudice, which is opposite of love for all! (1John 4:8,16) But when you join that knowledge with the knowledge of what we have seen from the word of God, it is extremely important for you the reader to understand that a true Christian should never knowingly commit this kind of sin, nor would they want to associate with one who knowingly and admittedly does and has done so admittedly for years, because that is sin, as we have seen. This kind of defiant disobedience to the Scriptures, after seeing what is revealed through this study, will definitely keep one out of the first resurrection and possibly the kingdom of God altogether, if not ever repented of! (Matt.5:19-20) It deserves the death penalty if done deliberately and after seeing the truth of Scripture.
Jesus Christ Himself said, as was shown in the study and in John 13:34-35; "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." And again, in John 14:24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Fathers who sent Me.” John 15:16-17 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 "These things I command you, that you love one another.”
To be a true servant of Christ one has to obey God from the heart and be obedient to the word of God. No one can deny or reject that written word or twist it to suit the self, making God out to be a liar, then still expect to be in the kingdom of God as a first fruit!
As we have seen in James 2:8-10 “If you really fulfill the Royal Law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
None of us have reached perfection yet but we must not willingly or willfully give in to nor continue to practice sin. (Lev.19:17-18 & 1Tim.5:22) IF one is not submissive to the correction from the word of God on anything that goes contrary to the doctrines of God, then you must apply this Scripture and others like it, for your own Spiritual well-being.
Rom 16:17 “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” (Sometimes a separation is necessary in order to avoid being tainted or even harmed by the sins of another, even in the family and marriage.)
Scriptures seen in this study are clearly showing partiality as a grievous sin that hurts others, violates the second great commandment and will eventually destroy the person guilty of it, unless seen and repented of! It may also bring suffering to innocent family members of those persisting in unrepentant sin. This will also be setting a wrong example for those yet unconverted of the COG, especially if seen within the ministry. No one can go against Scriptural doctrine, God’s children and the teachings of the Bible, for their own selfish motives and not set a wrong example for those around them that are still learning truth. This invites tragedy, as was seen in the introduction and by 1Sam 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,-- NKJ
(The Scriptural content was studied out and then put in this format on 9/15/08 by the editor for the public educational service for all visitors and readers. This study has been periodically updated and examined for errors several times since that date, having now gone through another editing for use on this present domain, founded by the same author and editor. May God have mercy on all who see what the Bible reveals on the sin of partiality and may even struggle to keep themselves from this sin going forward.) Editor for tcogmso