What does it mean, "God is no respecter of persons"?

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?


aaron's picture

I looked up this phase on the internet to get some clarification.

Part of the explanation above states that God shows no favoritism or partiality. I agree with that.

But then it goes on to state that "God wants people of all nations to repent and be saved."

That statement seems to imply a favoritism toward the Christian religion. "Repentance" is a universal concept, but "being saved" is pretty much just a Christian thing.

So if God is truly no respecter of persons, it does not seem right to assert that he favors Christians.


Titl356's picture

First I want to say I have found personally what love and compassion God for each of us. Just think for a moment the love extended to you as you judge the only God. The only living God. I can see by your writing that you do not have a personal relationship with Him and I hope and pray that God will reveal Himself to you. Ponder on this. If God is who He has inspired many to write He is. Millions to follow Him, believe in Him. Then does He not have the right to choose the way we come to Him? We human beings can call it whatever we want. Is not the essence of the message. John:3:16 For God so loved the world that HE GAVE His only begotten son. That who so ever BELIEVE IN HIM should not perish but have everlasting life"

God hears you! He sees you. Ask the author of the message what it means. Stop searching through man. Then you will understand. Then you will know the way.


revjon's picture

Aaron, I don't believe that the Lord favors Christians, but He has provided a way of salvation through His Son Jesus, and I believe that the bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to the Father and salvation (see John:14:6).

The King James Version says in Acts:10:34 "God is no respecter of persons." More modern translations say something like "God shows no favoritism." To me, this means that God wants to give everyone an equal opportunity to receive salvation. God doesn't have favorites. He wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy:2:4).

The context of the Acts passage is that Peter is realizing that gentile (or non Jewish) believers have the same access to God as Jewish believers. Peter is a Jewish man who is realizing this, perhaps for the first time. Or what Peter knew before to be theoretically true, he now sees is absolutely true because the gentile Cornelius and his family are clearly filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament seems to indicate that the Lord always loved gentiles and always had a plan to include gentile people in his salvation plan (see Isaiah:49:6), but now with Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people (see Joel:2:28), Peter is seeing this original plan of God coming to fulfillment, and it is a marvelous thing.

But I suspect you may have a follow up question which sounds something like this: "If God truly wants all people to have an equal opportunity to receive salvation, what about those Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Animist, and etc. people all over the world who have never heard of Christ? Will they go to Hell because they've never believed in Jesus? How can you say that God has given them an equal opportunity to hear about Jesus and believe?"

The best answer I can give is that Christians have been given the precious opportunity to hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus dying and rising again. Now it is our responsibility to share this Good News with the whole world according to the Great Commission in Matthew:28:16-20. Christians have the responsibility to try to give everyone an opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ. That's why we send missionaries to the ends of the earth.

If someone dies without ever hearing about Jesus, I don't know for sure what God does, but being that God is so merciful, I would not be surprised if God gives them their opportunity to respond after they die.


handle's picture

Of course God favors Christians. First, let's define a Christian for clarity. A Christian is someone who follows and imitates Jesus Christ as the scripture teaches. Where does it say that Jesus respected the religions and teachings of other men? Nowhere. Don't misunderstand the context. Acts 10 is showing that God expects all men to love and respect each other equally, not favoring others because of their power, prestige, race or wealth. Christ's example shows us no partiality. He sat with tax collector's and sinners, he healed both believers and non-believers. He loved all human life and even prayed for those who persecuted him up unto his death.

Ivan Veller

Ivan Veller's picture

Hi Aaron,
The Father and Christ desire a profound level of bonded closeness & loving intimacy that far exceeds, say, contemporary deism's limited ambitions for nothing more than a distant, superficial, coldly impersonal 'long-distance' relationship with few obligations, conditional commitment, no strings attached, and no true emotional investment—spirituality without spirit! Christ's vision for the relationship is far more passionate and vulnerable: "'I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Those who accept My commandments and obey them [(the ground rules for the relationship)] are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself'" - entrusting His "heart" (VOX 2012) - "'to each of them." [When asked], "Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us

and not to the world at large?"

Jesus replied, "All who love Me will do what I say ["This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn:15:12, ESV 2011)]. My Father will love them," and We will come ["draw close" (VOX)] and make Our home with each of them" (Jn:14:20-23, NLT 2007) personally. He answers to the name “‘God with us’” (Mt. 1:23, ESV)—our closest companion. As Christ's "betrothed" (2 Cor:11:2 ESV), we are "pledged…promised" (VOX) in engagement to "live with him" (Rom:6:8) as His own "bride" (NLT)—“clothed…with the garments of salvation…as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Is. 61:10 ESV).

Doesn't any husband want to be the love of his wife's life? God's already experienced having been “deserted” and abandoned by an “unfaithful” spouse (1 Ch. 5:25, GNT 1992) who had rather “t[a]k[en] up with the ungodly gods of the peoples” (MSG) than to have shared a truly intimate union of heart, mind, & soul (Dt. 6:5). If you were God, what fundamental safeguards and conditions would you assertively put in place from the start—to help screen out the players? Two of His are (1.) “‘Never have any other god” (Ex. 20:3a GWT) and (2.) “‘There is no salvation by anyone else’” (Ac. 4:12 ESV) (a mere statement of fact)—“You must acknowledge no God but Me, for there is no other savior” (Hosea 13: 4 NLT). Doesn't God have the right to choose a respectable fiancée who will remain faithful with a passionately "[un]quench[able]" love (Song:8:7 ESV)—and, once found, for Him to shower her with love & favor?

Ivan Veller

Ivan Veller's picture

Hi again Aaron,
Here’s how He explains it:

“‘[So] understand that I alone am God. There is no other God—there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior…I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,’ says the LORD. ‘From eternity to eternity I am God’” (Isaiah:43:10-13a, NLT 2010).

“‘I am the LORD; there is no other God…[A]ll the world from east to west will know there is no other God…[because] there [truly] is no other. I create [photons] and make [dark matter]…Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness…I am the One who made the earth and created people to live on it. With My hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at My command…[T]he Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans…will fall to their knees…and say,

‘God…He is the only God. There is no other.’’

Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, You work in mysterious ways. All craftsmen who make idols will be humiliated. They will all be disgraced together. But the LORD will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced.

For the LORD is God, and He created the heavens and earth

and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. ‘I am the LORD…and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek Me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right. Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save! Consult together, argue your case. Get together and decide what to say. Who made these things known so long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD? For there is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior.

There is none but Me. Let all the world look to Me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other…

I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on My word: Every knee will bend to Me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to Me.’ The people will declare, ‘The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength’” (Isaiah:45:5-24a NLT).


zzap999's picture

What John:3:16 is really saying is that God loved the world enough that he doesn't throw everyone in hell, just mostly everybody. Jesus said, "Narrow is the way and few find it". Why? "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. Then I will raise him up on the last day". Read also Romans chapter 9. NO ONE TELLS or INFLUENCES GOD what to do. NO ONE!

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