Fifty Two Bible Studies
A BIBLE STUDY ON POVERTY
to salvation is our treasure in heaven (not earth) through
eliminating our abundant possessions (Lk 12:15) and doing
restitution if we are rich, the rich being those having abundance
and luxury (Js 5:33). We need to share our abundance with those in
need as a matter of equality and with the goal of equality (2 Cor
8:14, Js 2:14). How much should we have ? Sufficient bread (Mt 6:11,
Lk 11:3), and the necessities of clothing and food (Js 2:15) are
sufficient, adequate and enough (1 Tim 6:8). The standard of
inheritance of God's promise to Abraham of family land and shelter
passed on by the jubilee law seems a good one (Lev 25), a right
directly proclaimed as liberty by Jesus (Lev 25:10, Is 61:1, Lk
4:18-19). We are very anxious about all this and Jesus knows it (Lk
12, Mt 6). God values us more than the birds!
1. How much is enough? (See
1 Timothy 6:16)
2. Does the Bible teacIl
equality (see 2 Cor 8:9-15) ?
3. Does the Jubilee mean
every family should own their own means of livelihood ? (see Lev 25)
Testament Notes on ptoch (poor, poverty) - The gospel has unique
relevance for the poor (Mt 11:5, Lk 4:18) since it is good news of a
levelling of wealth (Mt 19:21, Lk 19:8) through redistribution and
sharing of abundance toward equality (2 Cor 8: 2-15, cf. Jn 13: 29).
Equal treatment is part of loving your neighbor, the royal law (Js
Concern for the poor can
transcend theological debate (Gal 2:10), can fill the banquet table
with the poor (Lk 24:13, 21) who have the Kingdom of Heaven (Lk
6:20, Mt 5:3). The poor widow's offering amounted to everything (Mk
12:42) while the costly ointment for Jesus gives us reality about
the poor being with us until the end of time (Mt 26:11 - compare Dt
15:4-5,11) when the kingdom fully comes.
Poverty was extreme, for
beggars who were found maimed, lame and blind (Lk 14:13, 21; Rev
3:17). Beggars even found food which fell off a rich man's table
(Lazarus - Lk 16: 20, 22). There are some verses using poor/poverty
which relate material and spiritual poverty/riches (2 Cot 6:10, 8:9,
Rev 2:9; compare Rev 3:17, Mt 5:3).
ON THE POOREST
It is good to look at the Scriptural teachings about the poor in the
Old Testament (ebyon). The poor were a special charge of God who
remembered them, pitied and comforted them and cared for them.
There were many laws in the Israelite law (Lev 19: 23; Deut 14-15,
25) which included warning to oppressors of the poor (Ex 23:3, Lev
19:15). The prophets were strong with these oppressors (Is 1:23, Ez
22:7, Mi 2:2, Mai 3:5) even to the point of the death penalty (Ez
18:10-13--see below). The Bible also teaches that God seeks social
justice through legislation (Dr 10:17-18, 2 Sam 22:28, Is 25:4, Am
I. Read Exodus 23'1-8. What
does poor in their lawsuit mean (v.3 6)? Where is our gate (place of
2. Read 5:10-15. Are we in
an evil time?
Psalm 92:1-7. Does the Lord see today's evildoers (v.4, 7)? Can we
ask the God of vengeance to render just deserts (v. 1-2)?
poor were a special charge of God. The Lord would not forget them
(Ps 9:12; 10:12; etc.) Yahweh pities and comforts them (Ps 34:6; Isa
49:13; etc. God
cares for them (Job 5:!5; Ps 107:41, 132.:!5; Jer 20:13; etc.)
... The SOJOURNER, was to be likewise protected. ("Poor"
in Dictionary of the Bible, vol 3, p. 843)
"In Ezk 18:12, the oppression of the poor and needy is listed
among the abominable
things of a violent son which are punishable by death. This list
also includes robbery
('cf Lev 19:13), refusing to restore the garment taken in pledge
(Ex. 22:25f; Dt 24:10-
13, 17), lending at interest, and taking increase (cf Ezk 22:!2; Ex.
22:24; Dt 23:20f; Lev. 25:36f). According to the sermon
against the ruling classes in 22:25-30, the landed gentry in
Judah committed extortion, robbery, oppression of the poor and
needy. (THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, Vol 1,
1970, p. 33)
STUDY ON ABUNDANCE
We tend to lift up the opposites such as the rich and the poor,
abundance and want. If we know that God does not want us poor and
needy, then we are "off the hook" if we are affluent! But
there is another category in the scriptures which is called enough
(1 Tim 6:8, Js 2:14-16), sufficient (Mt 6:11 - not daily), and
necessary (Ac 2:45, 16:33). The Bible appears to have three
categories - rich, poor and enough. In this day of world hunger and
American affluence, Christians need to take a long, hard look at
their rich lifestyles.
Christians are rich in everything - faith, speech, knowledge and
zeal (2 Cor 8:7). Can we therefore be free to work for equality
2. By using
2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9 (especially 9:7) as a stewardship
theme to raise church budget funds, have we refused to struggle with
the message about abundance? (see note)
those who are rich and with more than they need (abundance) be
saved? (see Lk 6:24, Mt 6:24, 19:21-24,27:57)
on perisseia (abundance)- Abundance or surplus is related to food
(Mk 8: 8, Lk 15:17, Ph 4:12), possessions (Mt 25:29, Lk 12:15), or
riches (2 Cor 8:2, Mk 12: 44). Also we abound in love (Ph 1:9, I Th
4:10, I Th 3:12), of justice (2 Cor 3:9, Mt 5:20) of thanksgiving (2
Cor 9:12, Col 2:7, 2 Cot 4:15), of joy (2 Cot 8:2), of grace (Ro
5:15f) toward personal abounding I Cot 14:12, Ph 4:18) in the work
of the Lord (1 Co 15:58) in a sanctifying way (Ph 1:9, Ep 1:8) of
knowledge, intelligence, wisdom and perception of the mysteries of
Christ for God's glory (Ro 3:7) and pleasure (1 Th 4:1).
The most important
passage on surplus of possessions is 2 Cor 8-9 where Paul uses the
word ten times (8:2a,2b, 7a, 7b, 14a, 14b, 9:1, Sa, 8b, 12).
Jerusalem was in great need (Ac 11:29) and now is the time to abound
in the work of giving as able (8:12). Abounding in faith utterance,
knowledge, earnestness and love (8:7), the Corinthians should give
not to burden themselves and make life easy for them but as a matter
of equality of supply and need. Times could reverse (8:13-14).
STUDY ON FOOD SUFFICIENCY
In Biblical times most households were self-supporting in their food
supply (see note). In Jerusalem this was less so where grain could
be bought (2 Kgs. 7:1) but probably little bread (Jer 37:21).
Cargill-like merchants were under judgment and their cargo including
cinnamon, spice, wine, oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep
were no longer bought (Rev 18:11-13). From Biblical teaching we can
infer that food self-sufficiency is preferred. Give us this day our
necessary bread (Mt 6:11, Lk 11:3) is a better translation than
"daily" bread (see note). Yet we shall not live by bread
alone (Mt 4:4) but also by the bread of life (Jn 6:35), our
spiritual food (Jn 6: 27, 55) - Jesus.
1. Does the Bible teach
food self-sufficiency? Does the industrial revolution make such
2. Study Matthew 6:11/Luke
11:3. Various interpretations of the word epiousios are necessary,
daily, for the morrow and for the future. Why do you think
"daily" has been the most popular? (see note)
3. Read John chapter 6. Is
it significant that Jesus relates communion to bread and wine? Does
this make food and hunger unimportant?
Old Testament times as a rule every household provided food for its
own wants· . . . every tiller of the soil had also some sheep and
goats, and most had a few oxen (Neh 10:35-37) .... in general even
in New Testament times most households were self-supporting." "Food"
in THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA, Geoffrey W.
Brorniley, editor, 1982.
epiousios - "In the
NT it occurs only in the Lord's Prayer in Mt. 6:11, Lk 11:3 .... it
is not an indication of time but of measure epiousios defines the
amount of bread. ... it expresses confidence that God will give us
as we have need its force is adequately brought out in the
rendering: 'The bread which we need, give us to-day (day by day).
Kittel's THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (TWNT) Vol II,
Study on the Household and the Economy
times the household included servants or slaves - Mt 13:27, Ac 10:7.
Generally, the household was agriculturally oriented (Is 28:24-29)
as was the case in the wo9rld until 100 - 150 years ago. The house
was the center of work so one can see how the word economy (Laws of
the household) came from the house. In recent years the house has
become more a consuming group than producing, but this may change.
1. Farming was common to
the household economy (Read Is 28:24-29) . Should we produce more of
our own food today?
2. Do you consider yourself
an economist? Why not? How has the age of capitalism affected the
meaning of the word, economist? (See note) Read Ephesians.
3. The household was an
important place for meeting. Should the church organize around the
household more? Read Acts 2:46-47 and 5:40-42 (See note).
Notes on oikos (house) -
"Primitive Christianity structured the congregations in
families, groups and houses. The house was both a fellowship and a
place of meeting (Ph 2, Acts 2:46, 5:42). ... The house and family
are the smallest natural groups in the total structure of the
congregation." (Kittel's THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE NEW
TESTAMENT, Vol 5, p 130)
On oikonomos (law of the
household) - The King James version translated the world
steward/stewardship. Modern translators use manager/
management/plan/office. To make the word most relevant it should be
translated economy/ economist/ economic plan when used
comprehensively. ... It is in Ephesians where the word relates most
comprehensively to authorities and God's purpose (chapter one). Paul
is an economist and minister (an economic minister - Eph 3:9, Col
1:25) called to preach the economic plan of God (3:2, 7) who created
all things (3:9) and raised Christ above all rule and authority and
power and dominion. Godn0 economic plan will unite all things in
heaven and on earth (2:10). Paul later spells out the practicalities
of this economy for the Ephesians (4:1-6).