Friday, March 27, 2009

The Bible and Economics

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Part of a continuing series where I post biblical passages that deal with wealth, poverty, money, greed, simplicity, the rich and the poor. When I'm done, I'd like to have a fairly comprehensive collection of such passages all in one location. You can see other entries in this series in my sidebar on the left, under The Bible and Economics heading.

I've already looked at Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). In the last installment, I looked at verses scattered throughout the middle of the book of Matthew, from chapter 10 to chapter 19. Now, let's look through a bit more of Matthew (chapters 20-22)...

[Jesus speaking...] "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.'

So they went off. (And) he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?'

They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'

When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.'

When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage.

So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage.

And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.'

He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?

Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?'

Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last..."

...But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom 11 for many."

Matthew 20: 1-16; 25-28

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.

And he said to them, "It is written: 'My house shall be a house of prayer,' but you are making it a den of thieves."

The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them.

Matthew 21: 12-14

Let me point out here that much of Matt 21 and 22 have economic implications - parables are told about greed, about rich and poor, workers and masters, about feasts and inviting the poor and outcast into the feast and about hypocrisy of the powerful - specifically the hypocrisy of the Pharisees - all of which directly contributed to the plots to have Jesus killed. Read the whole chapters. For now, though, I'm jumping down to Matthew 22: 16...

[The Pharisees] sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status.

Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"

Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax." Then they handed him the Roman coin.

He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"

They replied, "Caesar's." At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."

Matthew 22: 16-21

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