A Question about Luke’s Economics

In case you didn’t know, economics are a big deal in Luke’s writing. The books of Luke & Acts both highlight issues relating to the rich & poor.

The most common reaction to some of the relevant texts are to decide that Luke (at least, and Jesus too, perhaps) was condemning the rich and exalting the poor. See, for example, Wallis, Jim.

But I’m wondering this morning if that’s really the case.

Luke’s point in highlighting the fate of the poor may not be a commentary on the morality of wealth as we typically frame it. It may, instead, be more an indication that, yes, the poor too are being welcomed, in the work of Jesus and the apostles, as full members of God’s family, just as God had always promised in the prophets. This is good news to the poor. Yet the rich also need to respond appropriately. They, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, must be willing to welcome the poor as full brothers and sisters lest thy find that they, the rich, are outside the family altogether.

A major theme of the Old Testament, particularly the foundational Pentateuch, is that God, the Father of Israel, would bless His children materially (that’s part of the point of the Promised Land, if you didn’t know). So it could have been thought among some Jews, at least, that prosperity equated to God’s favor.

Without arguing that point here, suffice it to say that Luke may be saying that the poor, too, are under their Father’s favor after all. Blessed, indeed are the poor.

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2 thoughts on “A Question about Luke’s Economics

  1. good thoughts, Mike. I had never really thought about it that way but it makes a lot of sense. I wonder how that point might apply to the people we shut out or deem to be ‘beneath us’ today. Who are we going to see in heaven and say, “Whoa! You’re here?”

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