Summary: "God shows not impartiality." We know this to be true but what difference should it make in our lives? We'll explore 3 life changing truths based on God's impartiality.
I remember growing up hearing from the KJV that, “God is no respecter of men.” I have to admit it sent a rather confusing message. I was supposed to respect people, but God did not. Since then, I have learned a little bit more about God, His relationship with humanity, and I also started using a different translation of the Bible.
Now I read, “God shows no partiality.” Essentially, it means God doesn't show favoritism. In fact, “no partiality” is the preferred reading in such translations as the NKJV, ESV, and the NAS.
Why does God show no partiality? Well, Job's friend Elihu revealed the source of God’s impartiality when he said, God “shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of His hands” (Job 34:19; cf. Proverbs 22:2). This is key to understanding God’s impartial nature, especially when we come to the New Testament.
On three occasions the New Testament cites God’s lack of favoritism as the foundation of several important truths:
#1 - Because God is Impartial, Salvation is Open to All:
Acts 10 is a great moment of change in the salvation history. Up until that time, the gospel had only been preached to Jews and the quasi-Jewish Samaritans. But finally, following divine intervention (10:1-23), Peter takes the gospel to the Gentiles. When he arrived, Peter opened with these words, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable” (Acts 10:34-35). No longer was salvation and fellowship with God exclusive of the Jewish nation. In the new age of Christ, every nationality is welcomed into the kingdom of God.
Paul touches on this theme in Romans 2:6-11 where he said, “[God] will render to each one according to his works” whether they be evil or good (vv. 6-8) regardless of one’s ethnicity (v. 9-10). The “Gospel,” Paul said, “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek... [for] ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17). This passage also confirms that when it comes to salvation, God shows no partiality based on ethnicity or nationality.
What's the take away for us? That we should take the gospel to everyone regardless of who they are or where they are. Salvation and the gracious reward of eternal life are not based on who we are, but the life we live in faith. This is the foundation of the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and we need to be about our job of taking the gospel to the masses, because God shows no partiality.
#2 - Because God is Impartial, All Teachers of Truth are to be Accepted:
A few years after the events of Acts 10, a crisis had hit the church, teachers known as Judaizers had infiltrated a number of churches and were teaching that in order for Gentiles to be saved they must keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15:1, 5; Galatians 1:6-10; 2:15-21). One area these teachers were especially troublesome was the region called Galatia. Within a short time after Paul's departure from the region, the Judaizers had shown up leading a good number of people astray (cf. Galatians 1:6). To bolster their authority, the false teachers claimed they had the backing from the influential apostles and teachers in Jerusalem: Peter, James, and John and Paul did not. The Judaizers had likely made a habit of exalting these three leaders at the expense of Paul.
Paul sarcastically makes a play off of the Judaizers’ name-dropping of these three men calling them “those who seem to be influential” (Galatians 2:2, 6, 9). As Paul makes his appeal that the he was accepted by these very men and the other apostles, and therefore the Galatians should accept him and his gospel, Paul appeals to the impartial nature of God (v. 6). No doubt, the Twelve apostles did have the unique privileges, i.e. of being with Christ from the beginning of His ministry (cf. Acts 1:21-22). However, their unique privileges did not make their apostleship any more legitimate or authoritative than Paul's, since Christ commissioned them all (ref. Romans 2:11). Furthermore, Paul never saw himself as apostolically inferior (ref. 2 Corinthians 12:11-12) because God shows no partiality between His servants.
What’s the application for us today? Because God is impartial, then we should receive all teachers of truth. We should not elevate one above another, or develop camps around this one and around that one. This was exactly what the church at Corinth had done and Paul condemned their actions (2 Corinthians 3:1-9). They were showing partiality. However, God is impartial when it comes to the use of His servants, therefore, we should be impartial in our receiving and listening to His various servants.