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"Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor and the face of God will not be turned away from you." "Alms giving is an excellent offering in the presence of the most high."

Tobit 4


Root thoughts behind Christian persecution

Christianity was seen as a distasteful variant of Judaism, anti-social, elitist. Christians were viewed as criminals.


Protocol for dealing with Christians from 100-200

Representation of self in court, opportunity to recant, death penalty. Letter from Trajan to Pliny, c. 113


Third century persecution

249-251, issue from Decius requires a sacrifice to the gods and a certificate. A few dozen die.



Valarian issues an edict saying that all clergy are to be killed


Little Peace




Great Persecution under Galarius


Edict of Milan

313, by Constantine and Licinius. Restoration of property and legalization of Christianity


Tobit 4

"To all who practice righteousness give alms from your possessions, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor, and the face of God will not be turned away from you. If you have many possessions, make your gift from them in proportion; if few, do not be afraid to give according to the little you have. So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity. For almsgiving delivers from death and keeps you from going into the Darkness. Indeed, almsgiving, for all who practice it, is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High."


Sirach 29

"Help a poor man for the commandment's sake, and because of his need do not send him away empty. Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost. Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and it will profit you more than gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will rescue you from all affliction; more than a mighty shield and more than a heavy spear, it will fight on your behalf against your


Sirach 35

Almsgiving a "thank offering." "He who keeps the law makes many offerings; he who heeds the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. He who returns a kindness offers fine flour, and he who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering."


Matt 6:2-4

"When you give alms ..."


Mark 10:17-25

The Rich Young Ruler/The Eye of a Needle
"Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'" (v. 21)
b. "Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!' And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, 'Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'" (vv. 23-25)


Luke 14:22

"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."


Matt 25:41-46

those who did not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, take care of the sick: "depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels"


Acts 2:44-47

Communism in Early Church
"All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." (vv. 44-45)


2 Cor 9

God will provide for you.
"And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. . . . He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness."


2 Corinthians 8

Economy of almsgiving. Balance.
"I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. . . . I do not mean that there should be relief on others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance."


1 Tim 6:6-10

Danger in weath.
"Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with
contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."


Tim 6:17-19:

Almsgiving is salvation for the rich.
"As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life."


Didache and Almsgiving

Ransom for Sin.
"Do not be one who stretches out his hands to receive, but shuts them when it comes to giving. Of whatever you have gained by your hands, you shall give the ransom for your sins. You shall not hesitate to give, nor shall you grumble when giving, for you will know who is the good paymaster of the reward. You shall not turn away from someone in need, but shall share everything with your brother and sister, and do not claim anything is your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more so in perishable things!"


Shepherd of Hermas, "Two Cities" Parable

"So take care; as one living in a foreign land, do not prepare for yourself one thing more than is necessary to be self-sufficient. . . . So instead of fields, buy souls that are in distress, as anyone is able, and visit widows and orphans, and do not neglect them; and spend your wealth and all your possessions, which you received from God, on fields and houses of this kind. For this is why the Master made you rich, so that you might perform these ministries for him." (6-9)


Shepherd of Hermas, "The Elm and the Vine" Parable

"So whenever the rich go up to the poor and supply them their needs, they believe that what they do for the poor will be able to find a reward from God, because the poor are rich in intercession and confession, and their intercession has great power with God. The rich, therefore, unhesitatingly provide the poor with everything. And the poor, being provided for by the rich, pray for them, thanking God for those who share with them. And the rich in turn are all the more zealous on behalf of the poor, in order that they may lack nothing in their life, for the rich know that the intercession of the poor is acceptable and rich before God." (5-7)