Article: Respecter of Persons or No Partiality? by Will Kinney

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Respecter of persons

There is a subtle twisting of God's inspired words taking place in most every modern version in how they changd the meaning of the phrase "respecteth not persons". This is so subtle, that I believe most Christians have not noticed it. The change in meaning produced by versions like the NKJV, NIV, ESV, Holman Standard, and NASB unfortunately fits in with so much of modern theology, that many would actually consider it to be an improvement over the KJB's reading. It fits the philosophy of the natural mind of man.

The concept that "God has created all men equal" does not come from the Holy Bible. God obviously has not created all men equal, nor does He deal with every single individual or nation in what seems to us as a "fair and impartial" manner. Many have become so influenced in their thinking by the reasoning of the world, that they cannot discern this obvious truth.

God has created, formed and made each of us. Yet He has not given to all equal intelligence, good looks, physical skills, nor spiritual gifts. "He divideth to every man severally as He will" 1 Corinthians 12:11. Exodus 4:11 reveals: "And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?".

Not all are born in a country which even has the word of God in its culture, or where it would be openly taught and encouraged. Psalms 147:19,20 "He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD."

Some are born in abject poverty, disease and ignorance, while others are blessed with abundant crops, education and families that care for them. "The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all." Proverbs 22:2.

The phrase "to accept the persons of men" or "to respect persons" does not mean, as the modern versions have translated it, "to show partiality" or "to show favoritism".

Not to show partiality is to treat all men equally; and this God does not do, as His word clearly testifies. Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "respecter of persons" in this way.

Respecter - noun. One that respects; chiefly used in the phrase, respecter of persons, which signifies a person who regards the external circumstances of others in his judgment, and suffers his opinion to be biased by them, to the prejudice of candor, justice and equity. "I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. Acts. 10:34."

Most modern dictionaries either have no entry for this expression, or they changed the meaning beginning around 1913 to mean "does not show partiality". This is an incorrect definition and does not fit its use in the Holy Bible.

However some modern dictionaries do give the correct definition. Idiom: be no respecter of persons - "To make no allowances for rank or status".

The phrase "God is no respecter of persons" means that His dealings with a man are not based on outward appearance, position, rank, wealth or nationality. We all, because of our fallen and sinful nature, are guilty of respecting persons. God does not look to the outward face of a man to determine His dealings with anyone. The literal rendering of this phrase "to respect persons" is "to receive the face". It is to look at the outward appearance and make that the basis for your dealing with such a person.

Contrary to our natural ways, God's own sovereign purpose, unsearchable design and the pleasure of His will are the only deciding factors in how He deals with His creatures of dust.

We are told in Deuteronomy 7:6-8 "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people: for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you".

Now if God is impartial and shows no favoritism, as the modern versions have it, then can we not charge God with hypocrisy or lying for being "unfair" in choosing the Jewish nation and bypassing all the others?

Deuteronomy 10: 14-17 "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day." Verse 17 "For the LORD thy God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which REGARDETH NOT PERSONS, nor taketh reward."

In this context, God says He chose only the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and their seed to be His people, and not the others. That He "regardeth not persons" means that He does this, not on the basis of their nationality, nor their good moral character (for they were a stiffnecked and rebellious people), but because is was His good pleasure to do so.

Other Bibles that agree with the King James Bible reading of "regardeth not persons" here are the Revised Version 1881, the ASV of 1901, Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, the 1917 Jewish Pub. Society version, the 1936 Hebrew Pub. Company version, the Hebrew Names Version, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, Young's, Darby's, Douay-Rheims, Green's Modern KJV, the Spanish versions, Webster's Bible, and the KJV 21st Century version.

However the NKJV, NIV, Holman, RSV, ESV and the NASB have "a God which SHOWS NO PARTIALITY". If God chose Israel to be His people, and not the others, is not this showing partiality?

Deut. 14:1,2 "Ye are the children of the LORD your God...and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." Why did not God choose the other nations to be his children and to know his laws? Isn't this showing partiality or favoritism?

One verse among the hundreds that have been messed up by the NKJV, NIV, RSV, ESV, Holman and NASB is 2 Samuel 14:14. Here Joab saw that king David's heart was toward his son Absalom. So Joab sends a wise woman to speak to the king. In verse 14 she says: "For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again: NEITHER DOTH GOD RESPECT ANY PERSON: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him." In other words, we all must die, whether rich, poor, Jew, Gentile, man or woman, king or servant; God does not look at our social station and on this basis exclude some from death.

Agreeing with the King James reading here are the 1917 Jewish Publication Society of America version, Young's, the Geneva Bible, Webster's Bible, the KJV 21, Third Millenium Bible, and the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras.

The Bishop's Bible 1568 says: "For we must nedes dye, and are as wather spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered vp againe: NEITHER DOTH GOD SPARE ANY PERSON, yet doth he appoynt meanes that his banished be not vtterly expelled from him.

The brand new 1998 Complete Jewish Bible says: "For we will all die someday; we'll be like water spilled on the ground that can't be gathered up again; and GOD MAKES NO EXCEPTION FOR ANYONE. The king should think of some way to keep the son he banished from being forever an outcast.

But many bibles, including the NKJV, NIV, ESV, Holman, and NASB have the ridiculous reading of "YET GOD DOES NOT TAKE AWAY LIFE", instead of "neither doth God respect any person". This is a false statement and a direct contradiction of numerous passages of Scripture.

In this very book in chapter 12:15 we read that "the LORD struck the child" of David and Bathsheeba and it died. In 1 Samuel 2:6 we are told "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up", and in Deuteronomy 32:39 God says "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand."

It is not that the Hebrew will not allow the meaning found in the KJB, that the NKJV, NIV, ESV, Holman, and NASB have so badly mistranslated 2 Samuel 14:14. They all likewise have translated these same words in other places as they stand in the KJB and other Bible versions.

The phrase "no respecter of persons" is found 6 times in the New Testament, and every time these modern versions have distorted the true meaning. Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:25, James 2:1 and 9, and Acts 10:34. In each case it has to do with not receiving the face, outward position, nationality or social rank of another.

Romans 2:11 "For there is no respect of persons with God."; Ephesians 6:9 "And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."; Colossians 3:25 "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."; James 2:1 and 9 - "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons"; "But if have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."; Acts 10:34-35 "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, 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."

In Galatians 2:6 the same phrase is translated as: "God accepteth no man's person". The verse reads "But of those who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God ACCEPTETH NO MAN'S PERSON:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me."

This is the same reading or sense found in the RV, ASV, Tyndale, Geneva, Young's, Douay, Webster, KJV 21, Green's interlinear, and the Third Millenium Bible.

However, beginning with the liberal RSV both it and the NASB say: "God shows no partiality", while the NKJV and the Holman Standard have: "God shows personal favoritism to no one". (Holman - God shows no favoritism). The NIV here surprisingly has the correct idea by saying: "God does not judge by external appearance".

God does not treat all people the same, nor are we told to do so either. We are to withdraw from some, avoid, exclude, reject, separate from, and not cast our pearls before others. Most importantly, God Himself chose His elect in Christ before the foundation of the world and "of the SAME LUMP" makes one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour - Romans 9:21.

Romans 2:11 says "For there is no respect of persons with God." So also read the ASV, Geneva, Revised Version, Spanish "acepción de personas", Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the 21st Century KJV and Green's Modern KJV.

However, the NKJV, NASB, and ESV say " God shows no partiality" and the NIV and Holman say "God does not show favoritism". Yet this very book declares in Romans 9 "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth...Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated...I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy...So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy...Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."

In Matthew 20 the Lord Jesus Christ told a parable that illustrates the grace of God and how, to our natural way of thinking, it is "not fair". A householder went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. Some started work right away, others at the third hour, the sixth hour and some at the eleventh hour. Yet He paid them all the same. Those who had worked the whole day began to complain. Then the Lord said: "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good. So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."

Please consider the true meaning of the phrase "no respecter of persons" and contrast it with the modern blunder of "shows no partiality". I hope you will see that it is not the same at all. Only the KJB contains the whole truth of the counsel of God.

Will Kinney

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