James 2:6

6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?

James 2:6 Meaning and Commentary

James 2:6

But ye have despised the poor
Or dishonoured, and reproached them, by showing respect of persons, in preferring the rich to them, and in distinguishing them in such a manner as was to their contempt and injury; which is a reproaching not only of them, but their Maker; and is in effect saying, that God has done either a weak or a wrong thing, in choosing them to be rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom, it being directly contrary to his conduct:

do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
which may be understood either of rich men that were unbelievers; and these either the Heathen magistrates, who ruled over them in a tyrannical way, and with rigour, and often summoned them before them, and persecuted them with violence; or their own countrymen, the Jews, who stirred up the chief men of the Gentiles against them, and drew them to their judgment seats, as they drew Paul to the judgment seat of Gallio, ( Acts 13:50 ) ( 18:12 ) or else of rich professors of religion, who assumed a despotic power over the poor brethren of the church, and loved to have the pre-eminence over them, as Diotrephes did, and set up tribunals in the churches, and tried and condemned them in an arbitrary way; or else upon civil accounts had them before heathen magistrates, and went to law with them in their courts, before unbelievers, which is a practice condemned in ( 1 Corinthians 6:1 ) , and seeing now rich men used them so ill, the apostle mentions this as an argument to dissuade them from respect of persons; seeing they had but little reason to show so much regard unto them, who had treated them in so evil a manner: this is not to be understood of all rich men; nor is the apostle's design to destroy that natural and civil order there is among men, by reason of their different stations, offices, and circumstances; it being highly proper that honour should he given to whom honour is due, but not to the dishonour of another.

James 2:6 In-Context

4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?
7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.