Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Early Church Father's and Outside Witness to Christians, poor, stranger and wealth!

Here are some awesome quotes about how the early church (90 ad - 500 ad) viewed and was viewed in regards to wealth and related topics. I tried to personally research these so you can be sure that they are legit. Also, I put links to biographies and original works. Hope this blesses you!


“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, ‘It is private property.’ If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.”
- The Didache, c. 90 AD, (Did. 4:8)

Christians "...they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God.”
Aristides, early 2nd century (Apology 15)

“We who once took most pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need.”
Justin Martyr, 100-165 AD (1st Apology 14)

“Christians despise all possessions and share them mutually.”
– Lucian (pagan author), 2nd century (Peregrinus 13) (Couldn't personally verify)

“And instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions.”
Irenaeus, 130-200 AD (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XIII, paragraph 3)
Disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Gospel writer and Apostle John.

“Private property is the fruit of iniquity. I know that God has given us the use of goods, but only as far as is necessary; and he has determined that the use shall be common. The use of all things that are found in this world ought to be common to all men. Only the most manifest iniquity makes one say to another, ‘This belongs to me, that to you.’ Hence the origin of contention among men.”
Clement of Alexandria, 150-215 AD
Mentor of Origen (Couldn't find exact reference but many others quoting this)

“We who share one mind and soul obviously have no misgivings about community in property.”
Tertullian, 160-225 A.D.
(Couldn't find exact reference but many others quoting this)

“It is absurd and disgraceful for one to live magnificently and luxuriously when so many are hungry…If one who takes the clothing off another is a thief, why give any other name to one who can clothe the naked and refuses to do so? The bread that you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor …How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?”
- Basil the Great, 320-379 AD

“The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.” “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours but theirs.” “When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.”
- John Chrysostom, 347-407 AD

“Give away these earthly things, and win that which is in heaven. Give that which you must leave, even against your will, that you may not lose things later. Lend your wealth to God, that you may be really rich. Concerning the way in which to lend it, Jesus next teaches us saying: ‘Sell your possessions, and give alms, provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail’ … Worldly wealth has many foes … but no one can do damage to the wealth that is laid up above in heaven.”

Thanks to Rachel Stanton her work!

Blessings and Peace!

5 comments:

  1. A little help for you.

    The quote from Clement is from the Instructor (or called Paedagogus), bk II, ch. 13. It goes on to say, "It is monstrous for men to live in luxury while many are in need."

    The quote from Tertullian is from Apology 50. The Ante-Nicene Father series translates it as, "One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common amoung us but our wives."

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  2. You might want to delete this comment if you approve my other. I can't see what I wrote, but I think I may have told you Apology 50 on Tertullian's quote, but it's Apology 39.

    Apology 50 is where he says that the blood of Christians is seed.

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  3. Thank you so much Paul, this has been a wonderful help. Bless you and Peace, thanks for reading (though it seems you already would've known these).

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  4. You're welcome. My strong point is the pre-Nicene writings (prior to A.D. 325).

    In the late 4th century, bishops had political power and opportunity to live luxurious lives. So quotes from people like Basil, Cyril, and John Chrysostom rejecting wealth is a testimony to their purity in an age of corruption.

    I'm not familiar with those guys' writings, so it was nice to see those on your blog.

    If you're interested, Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 190 or so) has a tract entitled "Who is the Rich Man Who Will Be Saved." You can find it at http://www.ccel.org/fathers in the 2nd volume of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (free). It's the very last writing in that volume.

    It's probably on the internet in other places, too. That would be a rich source of information on this topic.

    I read it once, too long ago to remember anything in it, other than he'd have agreed with all your quotes.

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  5. Hey Jaymes, I love your appreciation for the church fathers and their thoughts on such things. If you haven't read it, I would encourage you to read St. John Chrysostom's book On Wealth and Poverty. It's a series of sermons he did on the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Pretty good stuff and in the same vein of what you're citing here.

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