God is no respecter of persons

There is a misinterpretation of certain Biblical passages that use the words “God is no respecter of persons” in James 2:9, that appears in many statements by Steven Spiers and his “United Kingdom of Australia“, as well as by Romley Stewart Stover and his “Justinian Deception“.

The argument cherry picks the word “persons” and applies an OPCA meaning to the common phrase “respecter of persons”, concluding that firstly, God doesn’t “respect” the concept of legal personality, and secondly, that it is a sin to recognise (or “respect”) ones own legal personality.

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From a OPCA perspective, this denotes the “all-capitals name” and the “citizen-ship” it carries. It follows from the argument that a “person” is only a fictitious legal entity, as discussed in Van den Hoorn v Ellis, [2010] QDC 451 and other cases, a juridical person, as opposed to a natural person. This perception effectively makes the strawman argument a religious obligation, a Biblical justification for clarifying that they have no recognition or “respect” for this “all-capitals name” that is theoretically being foisted upon them.

The context and meaning of “respecter of persons”

According to consensus among both Biblical scholars and English etymologists, the common phrase “respecter of persons” simply means that one shows no partiality. This OPCA interpretation regarding the phrase is of course, a distortion of language and etymology, the true meaning of the phrase is entirely different.

The passage in James 2:9 in the Latin Vulgate is:

“si autem personas accipitis peccatum operamini redarguti a lege quasi transgressores”

The words “si autem personas accipitis peccatum” translates to English as “if you have respect to persons, ye commit sin”. The words “personas accipitis peccatum” alone translates to English as “favoritism, you sin” while “personas accipitis” alone translates to English as “partiality“.

In Collins English Dictionary:

“no respecter of persons” in British English: “a person whose attitude and behaviour is uninfluenced by consideration of another’s rank, power, wealth, etc”

Or even in Wiktionary:

“respecter of persons” (plural respecters of persons) “Someone who treats people according to their rank, status or importance.”

The given example of “Be careful: a hurricane is no respecter of persons.” is very fitting, considering that hurricanes are considered “an act of God”. It demonstrates succinctly that such an act, quite logically, does not differentiate between people, and neither does God himself.

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).

Paul, the Roman citizen

In the first century AD, a person could become a Roman citizen by either birth or buying the privilege. Paul’s birth in a Jewish family occurred in the city of Tarsus within the province of Cilicia (Acts 22:3).

Although a Jew, his birth in the city grants him citizenship. This is due to Tarsus’ designation as a “free city” by Rome. The chief captain, however, had to pay a large sum of money to earn the right. (Acts 22:28) “With a great sum obtained I this freedom.” while Paul said “I was free born”. Paul relied on the existence of his legal personality or “person” and the rights and privileges it provided him under Roman law.

Roman citizens had the right to sue (and be sued) in the courts and the right to have a legal trial where they could appear before a proper court to defend themselves. They even had the ability to request Caesar himself hear their case. Citizens could not be tortured or whipped (scourged), nor could they receive the death penalty, unless they were guilty of treason. It was this right that kept the apostle from a severe flogging at the hands of Roman soldiers (Acts 22:23 – 29).

Paul used his right to a trial before Caesar in Rome in order to avoid being tried before religious leaders in Jerusalem who hated him. He felt certain that any travel he undertook to the holy city would not only be risky but also likely cost him his life (Acts 25:1 – 3). Paul’s use of his Roman citizenship in order to avoid being murdered is in Acts 25. But Paul said, “I stand before the judgment seat of Caesar, where I have the right to be judged.”

Paul conceded to the jurisdiction of the court, he didn’t challenge jurisdiction. He had the serenity to accept that despite his own beliefs, under the law he possessed a certain status of a Roman citizen which afforded him rights and privileges unavailable to some others.

Extract from Acts 22, concerning the Apostle Paul.

24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.”

Should Christians obey the law of the land?

Romans 13:1-5:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

Romans 13:6-7:

“For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

Titus 3:1:

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”

1 Peter 2:13-17:

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Hebrews 13:17:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Mark 12:13-17:

“And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 17:24-27:

“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

1 Peter 2:18:

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.”

However, a point I must include at this point, is that it is well recognised by the courts that appeals to scripture, that is to a moral principle higher than parliamentary sovereignty, is “out of line with the mainstream of current constitutional theory as applied in our courts” (See BLF v Minister for Industrial Relations (1986) 7 NSWLR 372 at 384 per Kirby P.) See also Gargan v Director of Public Prosecutions and anor [2004] NSWSC 10 and BarrettLennard -v- Bembridge [2015] WASC 353: “Any moral principles derived from scripture do not detract from the sovereignty of Parliament.” citing Lord Reid in British Railway Board v Pickin (1974) AC 765 (at 782): “…since the supremacy of parliament was finally demonstrated by the Revolution of 1688 any such idea has become obsolete”

See article: The Laws of God are Superior?