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

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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 Acts 10:34-35 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.
American King James Version×
, 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 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
; 1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×
).

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 Romans 2:9-11 9 Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation).

God also does not want us to show favoritism. James 2:9 James 2:9But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
American King James Version×
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 James 2:1-4 1 My brothers, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come to your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And you have respect to him that wears the gay clothing, and say to him, Sit you here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand you there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
American King James Version×
, 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?

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