4

Acts 10:34

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

Genesis 18

1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

3He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, a do not pass your servant by. 4Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

Didn't God favor Abraham?

2
  • 2
    Finding favour in someone is not the same as showing favouritism. – curiousdannii Jan 19 at 2:31
  • The English says favoritism but the Greek says God does not discriminate or look to appearances or another English translation says is not a respecter of persons, meaning all men are equal in His sight. God does bestow favor on men, not for anything man possesses but for accepting God’s authority, of which He is well deserving to receive. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 19 at 3:20
2

There are two quite separate matters here that, while related, MUST be held quite distinct:

A. Abraham finding favor with God

The whole purpose of God's visit with Abraham in Gen 18 was to promise Abraham essentially two things:

  • A son (Isaac) through whom would be traced the human lineage of the promised Messiah
  • A (promised) land for Abraham's descendants to live to ensure that ultimately they would produce (humanly speaking) the promised Messiah.

Thus, the selection of Abraham was almost entirely Messianic and necessarily involved the selection of such a person and the human ancestor of Christ.

B. Peter's "Favoritism"

He should not have been surprised [see appendix below] but Peter was extremely surprised to the point of shock that God had enabled GENTILES to be saved!! He says this several times and on each occasion it appears to be a revelation of something new to them (but should not have been - see appendix below).

  • Acts 10:34, 35 - Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism, but welcomes those from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.
  • Acts 11:18 - When they heard this, their objections were put to rest, and they glorified God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
  • Acts 13:46, 47 - Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. But since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’

In fact, Jesus made two remarkable comments that should have alerted the early apostles that this was the case:

  • Mark 11:17 - Then Jesus began to teach them, and He declared, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? ... (quoting Isa 56:7, from the OT), and ...
  • Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

That is, Salvation was and is open to all people despite the misconception of Peter who thought that only Jews could be saved!! This is what Acts 10:34 calls "not showing favoritism" - salvation is available to all people, eg,

  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”

APPENDIX - Membership in Israel was always voluntary

The Old Testament contains many examples of foreigners becoming part of Israel, indicating that the Israelite Covenant was open to all and was never exclusive. For example:

  • Abraham’s own household must have consisted of perhaps 2000 people just to be able to raise an army of 318 men to liberate Lot, Gen 14:14. Indeed, Abraham’s chief servant (from Damascus) was clearly a believer and very devout as shown in Gen 24.
  • When Jacob entered Egypt, his family numbered 75 people (Acts 7:14, Ex 1:5). Some of these were not direct descendants of Abraham such as the wives of the 12 patriarchs, notably Joseph’s own wife. 215 years and four generations later at the exodus, Israel’s army had over 600,000 men, excluding women and children, (Ex 12:37, Num 1:46, etc) suggesting a total population of several million people, requiring many additions. This included a significant mixed multitude (Ex 12:38) showing that Israel obviously consisted of many non-biological Jews had joined. (Note that it is biologically impossible for Israelite numbers to have grown from 75 to several million biologically without many outside additions.)
  • Moses married a Midianite (Ex 2:16-21) also known as a Cushite. Miriam and Aaron were severely reprimanded and punished for displaying racism (Num 12:1, 2)
  • Caleb, who represented and led the tribe of Judah was a Kennizite (Num 32:12).
  • Rahab was a Canaanite (Josh 2:1, 2, Matt 1:5)
  • Ruth was Moabite (Ruth 1:4 16, 17, Matt 1:5) – these last two make King David descended from foreigners (Ruth 4:13-16).
  • Uriah was a Hittite (2 Sam 11:3)
  • King David’s elite personal regiment was Gittite, Philistines (2 Sam 15:18-22, 1 Chron 18:17)
  • The Rechabites were Kenites (Jer 35:1-19)
  • Many other foreigners lived in Israel (1 Chron 22:2, 17, 2 Chron 30:25)
  • In Esther’s time “many of the people of the land became Jews” (Esther 8:17, 9:27)
  • Even in NT times, many Jewish synagogues were attended by godly gentiles converted to Judaism (Acts 13:16, 26, 16:14, 17:17)
  • Many Jewish proselytes came to worship in Jerusalem (John 20:20, Acts 2:9-11)
  • Jesus quotes Isa 56:7, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations”, Mark 11:17.
  • Further, biological Israelites could opt out of the covenant and be cut-off (Ex 30:33, 38, 31:14, Lev 7:20, 21, 25, 27).

Thus, it is abundantly clear that membership of Israel was always open to all and voluntary.

2
  • 1
    How would a Gentile (apart from, say, Ruth, who inherited by marriage) have any land in Israel if he so chose to join himself to Israel ? He would have had no tribe and no heritage. – Nigel J Jan 19 at 14:42
  • 1
    I think you make an important point here. That Abraham being justified was a matter of faith and the righteousness of God. That is a separate matter to Abraham being 'favoured' with the dynasty which would bring forth the Messiah. As you say, the two are related but are distinct matters. Up-voted +1. – Nigel J Jan 19 at 14:46
2

Genesis 18:3

He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.

favor
חֵן֙ (ḥên)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2580: Graciousness

What is favor?

It is divine grace that God bestows on certain humble persons.

Proverbs 3:34

Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.

Genesis 6:8

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

In the Greek language, we see in 2 Corinthians 1:11, NIV

as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 5486: χάρισμα
χάρισμα, χαρίσματος, τό (χαρίζομαι), a gift of grace; a favor which one receives without any merit of his own;

Both the Hebrew and Greek words for "favor" have their roots in the concept of grace.

What is favoritism?

Acts 10:34

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

show favoritism,
προσωπολήμπτης (prosōpolēmptēs)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 4381: One who shows partiality. From prosopon and lambano; an accepter of a face, i.e., one exhibiting partiality.

Favoritism is partiality.

Deuteronomy 1:17

Show no partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God.

While in English "favor" and "favoritism" seem closely related, in Hebrew and in Greek, they are very different concepts. Divine grace is chosen by God. Partiality is never chosen by God. God shows divine grace to certain humble persons and shows impartiality to everyone.

Does God show divine grace (favor) to some?

Yes.

Does God show judgemental partiality (favoritism)?

Never.

1

Obtaining cHen ( חֵ֔ן ) : Grace is not favoritism, but acceptance. God does not show favoritism = לֹֽא־יִשָּׂ֣א פָנִ֔ים : "Lo-Yisa Panim", meaning He [will not regard a face] as stated in Deuteronomy 10:17.

In Genesis 18:3, Did Avraham hope to receive Favor or Grace in God's Eyes? - In Hebrew, we read אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ Im-Na Matsati cHen Be-Einei-kha : meaning "please-if I found Grace in-Your-Eyes".

To obtain cHen ( חֵ֔ן ) : Grace in [the] Eyes נֹשֵׂ֣את חֵ֔ן בְּעֵינֵ֖י of someone is simply seeking "acceptance" from others.

People may disguise favoritism with "Kindness" : Chesed חֶ֛סֶד once they prefer a person out of acceptable acquaintances. - But God does not show favor among those He accepts.

Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth explains the difference between Godly Grace & human Favoritism in Matthew 20:12-14.

-1

God has already made choice of whom will come to faith. Did he not do so, none would.

... he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [Ephesians 1:4 KJV]

God's choice is made in Christ, before the foundation of the world. Note, not in Adam. God is not pleased with that which comes of the seed of Adam. His choice is not a choice between one, or another, in Adam.

God's choice, that of the Father (in love), is in his own Son.

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [Matthew 3:17 KJV]

It is not a favouring of particular persons, come of the seed of Adam. It is the expression of the Father, in his own beloved Son, outside of the world.

Having made such a choice, God knows that such will come to faith. For it cannot be otherwise. For he is God, and he will do it.

Therefore, God knowing that the man Abraham will (by the influences of God's own Spirit) come to faith, he therefore deigns to favour Abraham with the responsibility of the dynasty which will bring forth the Messiah.

Knowing that, in the future, the man Abram will be a faithful man, God favours him (in advance of that event) and grants him the blessing of being a part of the work of God in bringing the Saviour of the world into the world

Yes, God does favour some. He does so, because they are destined to be the objects of his grace.

1
  • 1
    Was Jonah sent to Nineveh because the Ninevites were already favored as predestined objects of God's grace? – חִידָה Jan 19 at 19:36
-1

Abraham is favoured, yes, for his good conduct, for his being favoured depended on his faith, which was not only God's merit but his also, for otherwise, if only God's merit, then the expression "Abraham believed and it was accounted him to a righteousness" (Genesis 15:6) loses any logic and sense.

Thus, what does it mean? Is there favouritism in God for that reason, I mean for the reason that some people chose to make a motion towards God out of free will? Does not God love all? Yes! If it is stupid to think that the sun enlightens those lying on a beach differently, choosing the people's bodies out of some whim, so it is twice as stupid to think that God loves some more some less (cf. Matthew 5:45), for He loves all uniquely and infinitely. In the mentioned Matthew 5:45 Jesus tells his disciples to be like Himself and, analogously to the sun which does not distinguish the bodies, but enlightens all, good and evil likewise, to love all, good and bad, friends and enemies, indistinguishably, which only would make them like God who is such to all, good and bad. Now, if God commands His top-creatures, the only ones bearing His image and likeness, to be unprejudiced and distinguish not in loving, how utterly stupid it is even to hypothetically permit such a thought that the Giver of this infinite law of love Himself is prejudiced!

That there is no prejudice in God, Paul clearly states: "There is no partiality in God" (Romans 2:11), but does this Pauline oracle, inspired by Holy Spirit, augment in any manner such a simple insight, which even Greek philosophers guessed by sincerely following logic and dialectic, for Plato and Aristotle, Heraclitus or Pythagoreans, to say nothing about the great Parmenides, would also say unflinchingly that it is impossible for any trace of favouritism to abide with the First Principle of the universe.

But, surely, not all understand, respect and reciprocate with the infinite love of God, which is not God's fault, to be sure.

So, to conclude, those who reciprocate in their freedom with God's love and do God-ly things in faith, they by this very act are favoured by God in whom there is no favouritism in the sense of a certain inscrutable and beoyond-human-understanding whim that He loves or favours some persons more and some persons less notwithstanding those person's conduct and free choices. That God loves all and wants all to be saved is said by the Holy Spirit through Paul in 1 Timothy 2:4. Now, those who still claim that there is some sort of favouritism in God even with His all-mankind-inclusive love, then such theologians, who to me do not deserve this honourable name, fall into a schizophrenia that God loves all but favours some, as if there is a double activity in God - a) loving and b) favouring. But begone with this, unless, of course, we want to embrace heresy of Jansenists, Jan Kalvin and similars.

I was said by one of the BH-siters to stay respectful, and I answered that I am 100% respectful to all heretics, but not the heresy they follow. Respectful we should be to truth, if we are respectful at detriment of truth, and thus not call heresy that what it is, i.e. heresy, then we extinguish Holy Spirit in us, which Paul said we should not do (1 Thesalonians 5:19).

4
  • 1
    You've made a lot of claims here, but haven't supported any of them with any evidence. Please edit to flesh out your argument. And it's fine if you want to disagree with Calvinism, but stay respectful. – curiousdannii Jan 19 at 11:54
  • 1
    @curiousdannii I will, ok, as regards the Scriptural evidence, but I do not need to read in Scriptures "you have to breathe if you do not want to suffocate", for it is so evident - there was not Scripture whatsoever when Noah or before him Adam knew that there one has to freely reciprocate with God's love to be worthy of it and be His favourite in this sense. As to the respectfulness, I am 100% respectful to Kalvin and his followers, but say that his teaching is a heresy, where is disrespect here? On the contrary, I will be disrespectful to truth and philosophy if I do not say this. – Levan Gigineishvili Jan 19 at 12:27
  • @curiousdannii Have done it! – Levan Gigineishvili Jan 19 at 20:46
  • @Down-voter O, down-voter, please, hearken to my words,//Please do attend to my request and plight://I care not for points, less or more,//But care much for search of what is right.//So, please do not deprive me of your thoughts://Say, what did not you like in my letter,//Let us discuss, let us check pros and cons,//We may arrive at truth, what can be better! – Levan Gigineishvili Jan 21 at 19:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.