Did God show favoritism to the early believers?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: God shows favoritism! Did he not favor Mary, Daniel, Paul, Johnbasically everyone in the Bible? He also favors the angels... but if he favors me, I just do not see it. The way he appears to some and not others shows partiality, like with the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, he is powerful and causes the saints to perform big miracles, but I don't see those today. Has the Holy Spirit lost his power? Maybe our unfavored generation has less access to the Holy Spirit. I believe that the most favored generation were those who saw the Lord. They were given the "best" things while we seem to be given second best. 


“I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?” (Tevye speaking to God in Fiddler on the Roof.)

Are you sure that you want to be favored by God — chosen for his special purposes? Although the above quote is from the fictional character Tevye, it expresses a nonfictional truth: the favored of God suffer.

Being chosen by God is not all puppies and lollipops; it is abandoning life to his service. Poverty, beatings and ostracization are reasonable expectations for God’s man. Are these what you’re looking for? Because these are the marks of being a favored one. For example, Jeremiah (known as the weeping prophet) was “favored” with continual emotional distress; Daniel was “favored” with the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16); the Apostle John was “favored” with a life of exile on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9), and since these are examples of favored treatment by God, I’d be careful what I asked for.

Before you decide, let us eavesdrop on God and Ananias as they talk about God’s choosing Paul (then Saul) as a “favored” servant.

“But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.””
(Acts 9:13–16, ESV, emphases mine)

Please note well the term must suffer for the sake of my name.” First, there is no legitimate service unless you are serving God as he wants to be served. (That is what’s meant by for the sake of my name.) Second, you must suffer… but only after deciding to serve God rightly. This does not mean that you should heap suffering upon yourself — the job will do that for you (Matthew 18:7)! But would you know enough to consider yourself as having been “favored” after the world beat you bloody (Acts 5:40-41) as did Peter? Let us look at the Apostle Paul’s report on living many years as God’s favored servant.

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:24–30, ESV)

In light of all the above, can you see how your question betrays that you do not know what you are asking for? Your phrase, but if he favors me, I just do not see it shows me that you feel disenfranchised… but that is because God’s true franchise is different from the one you’ve been expecting — and perhaps this is because your ideas about God and the Bible are a little breezy. This shows up in your statement that God favors “basically everyone in the Bible.” Are you sure about this? There are 3,237 different people mentioned in the Bible — many of whom (like Ahab and Jezebel) were overtly evil — certainly not favored of God — and who were ultimately destroyed. So, have you studied the lives of these 3,237 different people?

I haven’t… and I do this for a living! But even in my lack, I am 100% certain that inclusion in the Bible does not necessarily indicate favored status with God. As for the angels being favored, the last time I checked, hell itself was created for the (fallen) angels (Matthew 25:41). As such, these beings cannot be considered as categorically favored.

As to the Holy Spirit, he was indeed very publically active during the apostolic period as compared to today. However, we must be careful not to put artificial limits on him, because he could have you raise someone from the dead tomorrow if that would give God the glory that he needed at a particular moment. But those types of miracles were more important to the embryonic Church where God was establishing the credibility of Jesus Christ and his Church, and also later as God’s authors were moved by the Holy Spirit to pen the Holy Scripture (2 Peter 1:21).

Now that the Scripture is complete, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer to help interpret God’s word and to assist in our Christian service. The very nature of these jobs speaks to a quiet manifestation of the Spirit, and since today’s needs are different from those of the early Church, so will be the external evidence of the Spirit. This is how God works in his Church over time; we are not second-class Christians because of it—in fact, God does not even offer second-class passage to heaven. Therefore, you have every opportunity to live your best life for Christ every day…which is my polite way of saying that you have no excuses for not doing so — and this leads to my final point (and to my hardest words): You are whining. Stop it.

You see, you did not so much submit a question as you made a complaint, and this complaint was born when you began looking around at other people and compared their ostensive advantages to your self-proclaimed disadvantages. This is immature and anti-Christian behavior — and you will never have peace with God until you grow out of this. In fact, this attitude is so worldly that I can’t tell whether or not you are saved!

If you are saved, then you are a Christian train wreck. If you are not — or if you are not sure whether or not you are — check our site for the articles on salvation, because John 3:16 tells exactly how God has indeed favored you… in spite of your declaration to the contrary. But either way, know this well: it is a sin for a Christian to invent discrepancies between himself and others — and then pine over these supposed losses-in-the-gap. Here is the biblical data.

God is neither partial nor is he fair. He is sovereign, and his sovereignty eclipses all other issues. A sovereign God can do whatever he wants to whomever he wants whenever he wants… and still be right. This is why Jesus answered so astringently when Peter asked him about someone else (the apostle John). Jesus told him to mind his own business! Aside from the appropriate concerns for the salvation and well-being of other people, God would rather that we focus on the primary task: to follow Jesus.

“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”  (John 21:20–22, ESV)

In the parable of the laborers (below), we see a similar situation. Instead of receiving their wages with thanksgiving and heading home, some of the laborers looked around… and assessed that they had worked more hours than others had for the same money; that was problem number one. The fact that they challenged the master on this invented offense is problem number two, and this tells us that they saw parity among persons as more important than the master’s honorable agreements the individuals — which is problem number three.

But this master, too, told them to mind their own business! Did he not fulfill their personal contracts for labor as they agreed? This looking around at the supposed advantages of other people with an eye toward leveling the field is evil. Our business is with the Lord himself! We should look upward in thanks and sideward only to see where we can serve. We should never look sideways in a covetous curiosity.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’” (Matthew 20:1–15, ESV)

The final line in the above quotation is my question to you: Do you begrudge God’s generosity to other people? Your question tells me that you do. Stop it. Look to your own contract with him, because none among God’s faithful are more favored than any others of the same.

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26–28, ESV)

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