In this article, we will deal with two basic questions:

  • Is it wrong for God to show favoritism to certain people, if He expects us to not show such favoritism?
  • Is it wrong for God to be jealous, if He expects us not to be jealous?

Is It Wrong for God to Show Favoritism to Certain People, if He Expects Us Not to Show Such Favoritism?

First, let’s define the term favoritism.  According to Webster’s Dictionaryfavoritism is “the showing of more kindness and indulgence to some person or persons than to others.”

Scriptures that Indicate People Should Not Show Favoritism Towards Others

There are a number of scripture passages, including the following, that indicate people should not show favoritism (or partiality) toward other people.  [Note:  When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, unless noted otherwise.]  

Leviticus 19:15: You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.  But in righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.

Deuteronomy 1:17a: You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great. . . .

Proverbs 24:23b: It is not good to show partiality in judgment.

James 2:9: [I]f you show partiality [toward other people], you commit sin. . . .

Scriptures that Indicate God (the Father) Showed Favoritism Towards Certain People

God showed favoritism to the Hebrews as a nation, and especially to certain Hebrews including Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, and at least several others.  Also, there are a number of scripture passages that make it clear that the Hebrews were God’s “chosen people,” and they still may be.  Among these passages are the following:

Deuteronomy 7:6: For you [the Hebrews] are a chosen people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.  [Note:  Deuteronomy 14:2 is very similar.]

1 Kings 3:8: [Solomon says to God] “Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen. . . .”

Psalm 105:6: O seed of Abraham His [God’s] servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

Among the scripture passages that indicate God favors certain individuals are the following:

Genesis 12:3: [God tells Abraham] “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. . . .”

Psalm 135:4: For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel [Jacob’s descendants] for His special treasure.

Malachi 1:2-3a: “I have loved you,” says the Lord.  Yet you say, “In what way have you loved us?”  “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Lord.  “Yet Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated. . . .”

Psalm 106:23:  Refers to Moses as God’s “chosen one.”

1 Samuel 16:1: Then the Lord said to Samuel, “. . . I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite.  For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”  Subsequently, in verse 13, we learn that the person God has chosen is David.

1 Chronicles 28:4: [David says] “[T]he Lord God of Israel chose me above all the house of my father to be king over Israel. . . .”

2 Chronicles 6:6b: [Solomon states that God previously had said] “I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.”

1 Chronicles 28:5-6: [David says] “[O]f all my sons . . . He [God] has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.  Now He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father.’”

In addition, some scripture passages indicate that Christians are chosen by God.  Among these passages are the following:

Ephesians 1:3-5: [Paul says to the saints (Christians) in Ephesus] “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. . . .”

2 Thessalonians 2:13: [Paul tells the church of the Thessalonians] “[W]e are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. . . .”

Scriptures that Indicate Jesus Christ (God Incarnate) Showed Favoritism Towards Certain Disciples

The following scriptures indicate that, on several occasions, Jesus Christ favored the same three of His 12 disciples. These three men comprised the “inner circle” of disciples with whom Jesus wanted to share special circumstances.  In addition to these three disciples and members of His earthly family, especially His mother, Jesus may have had other people whom He favored above others, but there is not sufficient evidence in this regard.

Matthew 17:1: Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves. . . .

Mark 5;37: [Jesus] permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 

Mark 9:2: Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.

Mark 14:32-33: Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He {Jesus] said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James, and John with Him. . . . 

Luke 8:51: When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl.

Luke 9:28: Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He [Jesus] took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.

Scriptures that Indicate God Does Not Show Favoritism Towards Certain People

In contrast with the last two groups of scripture, the following scriptures state that God does not show favoritism:

2 Chronicles 19:7b: [F]or there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality . . . .

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible indicates that this pertains to whether a person is “high or low, rich or poor” (i.e., their socioeconomic status).

Acts 10:34-35: Then Peter . . . said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.   But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” 

With regard to this passage, a footnote in the NIV Bible states, “God does not favor individuals because of their station in life, their nationality or their material possessions. . . . He does, however, respect their character and judge their work.  This is evident because God ‘accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right’. . . .”

Romans 2:10-11: [G]lory, honor and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word that is translated as partiality (or respect) in this passage refers to “the position, rank, popularity, or circumstances of men, instead of their intrinsic conditions, preferring the rich and powerful to those who are not so.”  Similarly, Matthew Henry’s Commentary states, “As to the spiritual state, there is a respect of persons; but not as to outward relation or condition.”

In other words, in Romans 2:10-11, God does not show partiality based upon a person’s earthly status. As for Acts 10:34, some sources indicate that the meaning of the term translated as “partiality” in that verse is similar to, if not exactly the same as, its meaning in Romans 2:10-11.

Thus, these New Testament passages apply only to God’s judgment of people for their actions, and the passages indicate that God is not a respecter of anything about a person other than his (or her) inner character.  1 Samuel 16:7b indicates that God focuses on a person’s inner character.  This scripture states, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Reconciliation of Apparent Discrepancies Regarding Favoritism

Certainly, the Bible records a number of instances that indicate God and Jesus Christ (God incarnate) has shown favoritism (or preference) for certain people.  However, God loves everyone (see John 3:16), which implies that He does not show favoritism (or partiality) without appropriate justification. 

Because God is omniscient, He knows what a person is capable of accomplishing.  Therefore, one probable reason why God shows favoritism is to ensure that what He wants to accomplish through humans will be achieved.  There may be other reasons why God shows favoritism, but we may not be able to comprehend them, as indicated by the following scripture passage:

Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Is It Wrong for God to Be Jealous, If He Expects Us Not to Be Jealous?

Webster’s Dictionary defines jealous as “intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness: apprehensive of the loss of another’s exclusive devotion.”

There are a number of scripture passages that indicate God is jealous, including the following:

Exodus 20:5b: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. . . .” 

According to Strong’s Concordance, the word that is translated as jealous in this scripture “refers directly to the attributes of God’s justice and holiness, as He is the sole object of human worship and not tolerate man’s sin.”

Exodus 34:14: [Y]ou shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.  

Strong’s Concordance says, “God is not tainted with the negative connotation of the verb [that is translated as jealous]. . . His holiness does not tolerate competitors or those who sin against him.”

Deuteronomy 4:24: For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

The comments made by Strong’s Concordance with regard to Exodus 20:5b above are also applicable to this passage and to the next two passages.

Deuteronomy 5:9b: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. . . .” 

Deuteronomy 6:15a: [T]he Lord your God is a jealous God among you. . . .

So, is it wrong for God to be jealous?  Interestingly, there do not seem to be any scripture passages that indicate jealously is wrong, even for humans.  Apparently, jealousy itself is not wrong, but rather it is how we deal with the jealousy that determines whether or not we are committing a sin.  If our jealousy leads to behavior that the Bible indicates is wrong, then it is that behavior, not the jealousy itself, that results in sin.

In any case, God is the Creator of the entire universe.  He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  He is not being selfish when He expects us to give Him top priority in our life.  Selfishness implies having disregard for others.  God does not have disregard for others.  In fact, as the following scripture passages indicate, He loves everyone.

John 3:16: [Jesus Christ declared] “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 17:23b: [Jesus Christ prayed] “that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Romans 5:8: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 

In other words, 2 Peter 3:9 indicates that God is not partial with regard to who can have eternal salvation.

In light of the foregoing considerations, it should be clear that God deserves to be worshipped and honored by everyone.  And, if we fail to do so, He is justified in being jealous. 

Conclusion

Because God does not show favoritism without appropriate justification and because He deserves to be worshiped, we believe it is fair to conclude that favoritism and jealousy are proper for Him.