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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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  • aaron
    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
    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 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    American King James Version×
    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
    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 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
    American King James Version×
    ). The King James Version says in Acts 10:34 Acts 10:34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
    American King James Version×
    “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 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 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 Isaiah 49:6And he said, It is a light thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.
    American King James Version×
    ), but now with Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people (see Joel 2:28 Joel 2:28And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
    American King James Version×
    ), 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 Matthew 28:16-20 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
    American King James Version×
    . 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
    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
    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” (John 15:12 John 15:12This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.
    American King James Version×
    , ESV 2011)]. My Father will love them,” and We will come [“draw close” (VOX)] and make Our home with each of them” (John 14:20-23 John 14:20-23 20 At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas said to him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world? 23 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him.
    American King James Version×
    , NLT 2007) personally. He answers to the name “‘God with us’” (Mt. 1:23, ESV)—our closest companion. As Christ’s “betrothed” (2 Corinthians 11:2 2 Corinthians 11:2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
    American King James Version×
    ESV), we are “pledged…promised” (VOX) in engagement to “live with him” (Romans 6:8 Romans 6:8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
    American King James Version×
    ) 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 Of Solomon 8:7 Song Of Solomon 8:7Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
    American King James Version×
    ESV)—and, once found, for Him to shower her with love & favor?
  • Ivan Veller
    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 43:10-13 Isaiah 43:10-13 10 You are my witnesses, said the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore you are my witnesses, said the LORD, that I am God. 13 Yes, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
    American King James Version×
    a, 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 45:5-24 Isaiah 45:5-24 5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded you, though you have not known me: 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. 8 Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. 9 Woe to him that strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashions it, What make you? or your work, He has no hands? 10 Woe to him that said to his father, What beget you? or to the woman, What have you brought forth? 11 Thus said the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command you me. 12 I have made the earth, and created man on it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. 13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, said the LORD of hosts. 14 Thus said the LORD, The labor of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours: they shall come after you; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down to you, they shall make supplication to you, saying, Surely God is in you; and there is none else, there is no God. 15 Truly you are a God that hide yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior. 16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. 17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. 18 For thus said the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he has established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. 19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek you me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. 20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god that cannot save. 21 Tell you, and bring them near; yes, let them take counsel together: who has declared this from ancient time? who has told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. 22 Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That to me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
    American King James Version×
    a NLT).
  • zzap999
    What John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    American King James Version×
    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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