Home » (Experimental Thoughts) » Notes and Translations for a Larger Project. Of Προσωπολημψία.

Notes and Translations for a Larger Project. Of Προσωπολημψία.

(This may only be an experiment in making footnotes that are larger than the text itself.)

The entire testimony of Jesus Christ and the apostles declares that God as judge does not show partiality or favoritism. God οὐκ ἔστιν προσωπολήμπτης.* The human πρόσωπον, the outward show, the reputation—none of it has any weight for him. In judging humans, God accepts precisely no human testimony besides actual and particular works. . . .


* The phrase is taken from Acts 10.34 where Peter says, “In truth, I understand that God is not a biased judge [οὐκ ἔστιν προσωπολήμπτης]”—or taking the Greek with painful literalness, God is not “an acceptor of the face.” The related abstract noun προσωπολημψία is used by Paul three times:

  • Romans 2.11: “For there is no superficial prejudice with God.”
  • Ephesians 6.9: “. . . And there is no superficial prejudice with him.”
  • Colossians 3.25: “For the unjust will be repaid for his injustice, and there is no personal favoritism [to help him].”

A negation of the adverb form appears later in 1 Peter 1.17: “And if you appeal to the Father, this one who judges without superficial prejudice [ἀπροσωπολήμπτως], but rather according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” But of course, the most extensive passage on this idea is in James 2:

1My brothers, keep the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ without superficial prejudice [προσωπολημψία]. For if a man were to come into your congregation with a gold ring and fine clothes, and then also a poor man in filthy clothes were to come, 3and if you regard especially the man wearing fine clothes and say, “You sit here with honor,” while to the poor man you say, “You stand over there” or “Sit here at my feet”—4then have you not made distinctions among the congregation and become judges with evil calculations? . . . 8If indeed you keep the royal law according to the Scripture—“you will love your neighbor as yourself”—then you are conducting yourselves wonderfully. 9But if you show superficial prejudice [προσωπολημπτεῖτε], you are sinning, being exposed by that law as transgressors.

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