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But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? (James 2:6)
The interesting thing that James makes clear here is that the very people God would honor were the very ones being dishonored. James states that these believers have dishonored the poor man by showing favoritism to the rich and excluding the poor. The apostle sought to tell them yet again that the rich had never exhibited such partiality towards them to honor them, which they were inclined to render the rich. They dishonored and humiliated the poor man by saying that he was not worthy enough to worship God in the synagogue based on his external appearances. As a result, they were making it difficult for the poor man to worship by giving him the worst seat in the assembly and giving him the disheartening feeling that he deserved that place. The objective of James is to correct the mindset and enlighten his readers to the offensiveness of that favoritism or partiality which people in general are disposed to show to the rich.
In the days of James, there was a significant issue with the wealthy taking individuals to court. Their financial resources allowed them to do so whenever they desired. Interestingly, these rich people to whom they were showing favoritism were the very ones taking them to court. For this reason, James asks a rhetorical question, are not the rich the ones who oppress you and the ones who drag you into court?
Referring probably to some specific examples that would be known to the readers. The meaning is not that the rich went about oppressing every poor person they came into contact with, but instead, they crushed those to whom James was writing. In this early stage of Christianity, almost all Christians were poor, so this letter would have been even more impactful, as it would have been personal. The main thought here is that it was typical for the rich and powerful, whom these Christians were eager to honor, to oppress the crush the poor. Here, the Greek is very expressive: ‘Do they not arrogantly and authoritatively lord it over you?’ Such a point would sadly be applicable through the ages and so just as relevant today.
The ones who drag you into court are your oppressors, not your friends. There is little doubt that many rich people were persecuting Christians at this time, or at least not favorably disposed toward them, so they were quick to drag them before the judicial courts.