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THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES - Chapter 2 - Verse 2

Verse 2. For if there come unto your assembly. Marg., as in Gr., synagogue. It is remarkable that this is the only place in the New Testament where the word synagogue is applied to the Christian church. It is probably employed here because the apostle was writing to those who had been Jews; and it is to be presumed that the word synagogue would be naturally used by the early converts from Judaism to designate a Christian place of worship, or a Christian congregation, and it was probably so employed until it was superseded by a word which the Gentile converts would be more likely to employ and which would, in fact, be better and more expressive—the word church. The word synagogue (sunagwghn) would properly refer to the whole congregation, considered as assembled together, without respect to the question whether all were truly pious or not; the word church (ekklhsia) would refer to the assembly convened for worship as called out, referring to the fact that they were called out from the world, and convened as worshippers of God, and would, therefore, be more applicable to a body of spiritual worshippers. It is probable that the Christian church was modelled, in its general arrangements, after the Jewish synagogue; but there would be obviously some disadvantages in retaining the name, as applicable to Christian worship. It would be difficult to avoid the associations connected with the name, and hence it was better to adopt some other name which would be free from this disadvantage, and on which might be engrafted all the ideas which it was necessary to connect with the notion of the Christian organization. Hence the word church, liable to no such objection as that of synagogue, was soon adopted, and ultimately prevailed, though the passage before us shows that the word synagogue would be in some places, and for a time, employed to designate a Christian congregation. We should express the idea here by saying, "If a man of this description should come into the church."

A man with, a gold ring. Indicative of rank or property. Rings were common ornaments of the rich; and probably then, as now, of those who desired to be esteemed to be rich. For proof that they were commonly worn, see the quotations in Wetstein, in loc.

In goodly apparel. Rich and splendid dress. Compare Lu 16:19.

A poor man in vile raiment. The Greek here is, filthy, foul; the meaning of the passage is, in sordid, shabby clothes. The reference here seems to be, not to those who commonly attended on public worship, or who were members of the church, but to those who might accidentally drop in to witness the services of Christians. See 1 Co 14:24.

{+} "assembly" or, "synagogue" {*} "goodly" or, "gorgeous"

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