Rick Hogaboam’s Sermon Notes on Galatians 2:10 “Remembering the Poor”

Posted: July 21, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Biblical Studies, Ethics, Galatians, Politics

These are rough notes, designed really for self, but am posting as promised because I didn’t get to cover everything in the sermon:

Gal 2:10 “Remembering the Poor”

Galatians 2: 10 (ESV) — 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

–          If Paul is being exhaustive here, then doesn’t mesh well with Acts 15 Jerusalem council, may be referring to Acts 12 trip which would have been the very reason Paul was even there, delivering a collection from Antioch to Jerusalem.

–          “poor” : some possible interpretations;

  • pious poor referred to the saints, those who were intentionally poor
  • collective term for the whole Church in Jerusalem
  • the poor believers in Jerusalem
  • poor Christians in general
  • the general poor in the Jerusalem area
  • general poor
    • I think it is referring to poor believers in Jerusalem, but this does not negate the fact that Scripture elsewhere does call upon us to care for poor believers everywhere, and also to care for the poor in general.
–          “eager” : Paul was truly “forward”, eager, willing to fulfill this calling.
–          This was not an imposed fee upon Gentiles to send money to Jerusalem as a sort of ecclesiastical headquarters.

–         

How were poor cared for in OT?

–          Deuteronomy 15:7–11 (ESV) — 7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10 You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

  • Notice that we will always have poor, we should be generous, God promises to help.
  • Debt was forgiven in 7th year so folks wouldn’t lend money when it got closer to that time, leaving people with no recourse.

–          Deuteronomy 16:16–17 (ESV) — 16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.

  • This was a mandated offering, amount unspecified

–          Leviticus 27:30–34 (ESV) — 30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. 33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” 34 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

  • This was a mandated specified tithe of the land given to the Levites for their landlessness, which was the barometer of wealth, not currency. Only fruit and flocks were subject to tithe as representative of one’s wealth and output in the land…sort of a land assessment.
  • Since Jesus has replaced the priesthood, some argue that the idea of supporting pastors derives from these principals. The priests and pastors did not work “Secular” jobs to acquire wealth. They forego a life of attaining as much wealth as possible. Their vocation is ministry, set aside.
  • We also see that giving to poor is considered the same as giving to Jesus (“least of these”). We give to Jesus as priest through works of mercy to the poor.

–          Deuteronomy 14:22–29 (ESV) — 22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you. 28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

  • 2nd tithe was given for partying.
  • Some see a 3rd tithe designated every 3 years for the Levites and poor, tough to reconstruct everything perfectly.

–          Deuteronomy 24:19–22 (ESV) — 19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

  • Gleaning laws mandated that farmers not work the land completely. They were mandated to work less for the purpose of leaving some food for the poor, who would have to come get the food themselves. The farmer was not obligated to get the extra food and then on his own and then send it to the IRS, where such funds would then be redistributed to the poor who sit in an office once awhile.
  • There was no middleman, no bureaucrats, and the poor would be asked to do reasonable work to get their own food.
  • This is a tithe of sorts as the farmer would forgo additional profits.
  • Tough to replicate today. Meager work for welfare? Food stamps?
  • Should this be done from a civil magistrate? Tough issues to hash through.
  • Also limitations on how much could be taken:
    • Deuteronomy 23:24–25 (ESV) — 24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.
      • We see a theocratic nation, which isn’t constituted today. Political liberals like to go to these passages to show that God mandates a national welfare system of some kind. In the New testament, however, we see that these theocratic mandates are instituted within the Church in particular.

–          NT PARALELLS

–          James 2:15–17 (ESV) — 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • notice that this is for “brother or sister”. Notice also that James is calling on Christians to give those things which are essential to the body, food and clothing.

–          Ephesians 4:28 (ESV) — 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

–          2 Timothy 2:6 (ESV) — 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

  • We are not to be free-loading thieves, but rather work and share with others in need. Work is a virtue. We should all be hard workers, not lazy thieves. We become thieves when we are able to work, but choose not to and instead rely on mercy. That is wrong and sinful. Even welfare in OT required that one actually pick the fruit, wasn’t handed to them.

–          Galatians 6:9–10 (ESV) —9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • good of everyone, especially household of faith.

–          Matthew 25:31–46 (ESV) — 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  • Jesus states least of these “my brothers”, seems to restrict this mandate to His Body, the Church. This is a favorite passage for political liberals to validate a welfare state. However, it is really a call to the Church to live out her witness as a merciful institution on earth.  We should visit the sick, visit prisoners, etc. Christians have built hospitals, and usually offer better rehabilitation options for prisoners.

–          Matthew 5:38–42 (ESV) — 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

  • Give to the one who begs from you…Bible is consistent that we should give alms, this literally means those who are begging.  If someone wants to borrow, don’t refuse. Means what it says and is something we should wrestle with.

–          Luke 6:32–36 (ESV) — 32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

  • Jesus calls upon us to minimally help those who are in need for essentials. As for the lending without expecting in return, Jesus is speaking in a context of helping those who may not be able to repay and to not let that discriminate in our giving. We are not to act like a bank and asses how capable this person is of repaying me $5 to get some dinner. We are not to be petty and hound people until they return it. a lot different if you let someone borrow your car, etc.
  • It’s not a sin to live above your means as well. It’s hard to be rich and not covet, but it is certainly okay to buy a nice tv or go on a vacation and not feel guilty about it. actually the free market is what solves lots of problems of poverty on a macro level. The only way people will be able to work and participate in the exchange of goods is if we are all participants to varying degrees to the economy.

–          Is giving discriminate towards circumstances? YES

  • 1 Timothy 5:1–16 (ESV) — 1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. 3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
    • We see here that true widows are those who don’t have family to help. We also see that there is a description on what qualities these widows should have in order to receive aid. It also calls upon believers to care for their relatives and to not burden the church. A believer who refuses to provide is called worse than an unbeliever and would be subject to disciplinary action in the church.
    • We have had mercy requests that were so minimal and should be met by existing family members, that we have advised that it be handled that way.

–          Warning if don’t help the poor:

  • Proverbs 21:13 (ESV) — 13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
    • Prayers are affected by what we do, husbands prayers hindered, stingy people hindered.

–          Blessings upon those who will:

  • Psalm 112:1–10 (ESV) — 1 Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! 2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. 5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. 10 The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!
    • Beatitude upon the righteous man who deals generously
  • Proverbs 31:20 (ESV) — 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
    • The Godly woman also helps poor.

–          There’s no escaping the fact that giving is expected, commanded, and to be practiced in the most radical, lust denying fashion. Here’s a few pastoral guidelines to help you out:

  • You are not bound to cause self-injury, or loss in giving
    • Don’t damage your own finances unless you are single and voluntarily wish to do so
  • You are not bound to give everything that people ask for
    • If they ask for your house, car, etc, not bound. But if they need a place to live, you can consider it, but not bound, but you are partly responsible for finding a way to make sure that the individual is cared for
    • You are allowed to lay off a Christian, in fact I would say you shouldn’t show partiality to Christian in work place, perhaps in hiring when the skills are a wash, but don’t promote a Christian who is less skilful or who has less seniority than someone else.
  • Almsgiving
    • Prefer to give food only. Okay to direct them to a local ministry that you support. In otherwords, if you have chosen to financially support the Boise Rescue Mission, that is your giving to people in need for a place to stay the night, so direct people to that ministry.
  • There is a prioritizing of Christians
    • I would say that we are bound to help each other out through ministry of benevolence, which the deacons administrate.  Deacons and Deaconesses are set aside in our church to help administrate mercy and benevolence to people in need.
    • Class of widows who were cared for by the church
    • Orphans are in a particular class as well
    • Where the husband is absent, the church helps the family
  • Mercy?
    • Do we give to people who haven’t first sold off their own assets? Mercy is undeserved, so yes we do to fellow believers, but as a matter of truly ministering to someone, the deacons will refer those who have needed aid for several months or so to the elders to see if there is a systemic problem to help minister to.
    • Have already discussed that there does need to be an assessment of situation person lives in.
    • I know some are uncomfortable giving to people on the street because you don’t know their situation, but you certainly have a heart that they really get better. It’s tough.  The civil magistrate has programs that redistribute your taxes to help such people. If there is someone in need of food, they can access it.

–          This isn’t as exhaustive as I’d like, and I’m tempted to touch on some more concerns regarding role of state and Church, etc.

–          The church cared for the poor – The church outdid the state in caring for the poor. Hunter (55) notes, “Basil’s role as a patron of the church’s wealth to the poor reached the entire region—organizing relief for the victims of famine, establishing a leper hospital, and providing food for the poor”. Hunter notes that this ministry of charity for the poor and disenfranchised was revolutionary. So much so that imperial authority was weakened.  Julian realized the threat the church posed to the power of the state, stating (55):

  • These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes…Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity…”

–          We see Institutional Charity as the paradigm moving forward, doesn’t negate Individual Charity. At the end of the day, people must be willing participants.

–          Acts:  people shared their goods to meet the needs of others, but this was voluntary.

–          Paul’s 3rd missionary journey, instruction to Corinth:

–          1 Corinthians 16:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

–          JESUS!!!

  • 2 Corinthians 8:1–15 (ESV) — 1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
    • Jesus showed us grace, requiring that He become poor. He didn’t just from the overflow of His wealth, couldn’t impart a salvation to man unless it had first been earned as a man, thus why Jesus came as a man, became poor. We are rich because He was a giver. We have an advocate and high priest because He became poor.
    • Paul is Christ-centered, points to Jesus as the reason for our own giving to others.
  • V. 15 > Exodus 16:15–18 (ESV) — 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’ ” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.

–          2 Corinthians 9:5 (ESV) — 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

  • Willing, not exaction

–          2 Corinthians 9:6–15 (ESV) — 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 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. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

  • Vs. 9 >Psalm 112:9 (ESV) — 9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.

–          Romans 15:25–29 (ESV) — 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

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