What does the Bible teach about partiality or favoritism?
When meeting with the gentile centurion Cornelius, the apostle Peter explained what God had revealed to him: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-35, King James Version). The New King James Version translates "God is no respecter of persons" as "God shows no partiality."
Many of Peter's fellow Jews thought that God loved them more than the gentiles, but Peter came to understand that God did not show favoritism. God wants people of all nations to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).
The apostle Paul explained that the time order of God's plan was not a sign of injustice or favoritism. "There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism" (Romans 2:9-11, New Living Translation).
God also does not want us to show favoritism. James 2:9 says that "respect to persons" (KJV) or "partiality" (NKJV) is sin. This is seen more clearly by considering the context of this passage in the New Living Translation:
"My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others? For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, 'You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor'—well, doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?...
"Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord's royal command found in the Scriptures: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you pay special attention to the rich, you are committing sin, for you are guilty of breaking that law" (James 2:1-4, 8-9).
Therefore, God shows no favoritism or partiality, and the Bible teaches us that we should not either.
For more insight, please read our booklet Who Is God?