The Bible is full of Communistic sharing and Socialistic giving which results in helping people.

Inspired by Lance Goldsberry’s page on his blog, I am also compiling a list of quotes on property, wealth, and economics from the biblical church and church tradition. My goal is not to make people be communists, communalists, communitarians, or whatever other word you would like to use for it, but to get people thinking. A lot of people associate economic individualism and greed with Christianity, and I want to show how different it should be.

Also, a number of these quotes will come from my previous blog post, The Bible On Poverty and Oppression, and from the out of print book Quotations From Chairman Jesus by Fr. David Kirk, who was a Catholic Worker and civil rights activist, but some of these also come from books and articles that I have come across here and there.

Apostolic Communism and Care For the Poor

While Jesus was alive, he and his disciples practiced communal ownership of money, and it was Judas who was the caretaker of their communal pot, or as the NRSV puts it, common purse (John 12:6, 13:29). Later, the apostles continued Jesus’ communal practice after his death.

“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.” – Acts 2:44-45

“Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.” – Acts 4:32

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Many other parts of the New Testament, while they may not reflect a specifically communist outlook, do show a strong emphasis on caring for the poor and the rejection of money and property.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:3-12

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:24-25

“Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”” – Matthew 19:21

“Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.” — Matthew 21:12–17, see also  Mark 11:15–19,  Luke 19:45–48, and John 2:13–16

“Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” – Matthew 25:31-46

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” — Luke 1:46-55

“In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”” – Luke 3:11

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” — Luke 4:18

“Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.” — Luke 6:20-22

“And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.” — Luke 7:22

“Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” — Luke 12:33

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” — Luke 14:13

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”” — Luke 18:22

“love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” – Romans 12:10-13

“We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints—and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us,” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

“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. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something. . .

“I do not mean that there should be relief for 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.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9-10, 13-14

“They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.” — Galatians 2:10

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

“In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” – Colossians 3:11

“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.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”” — Hebrews 13:1-5

“For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?” – James 2:2-7

“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.” – James 5:1-6

“How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” — 1 John 3:17-18

Christian Communism Throughout History

“We who share one mind and soul obviously have no misgivings about community in property.” — Tertullian

“All things belong to God, who is our Father and the Father of all things. We are all of the same family; all of us are brothers. And among brothers it is best and most equal that all inherit equal portions.” — St. Gregory of Nyssa

“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

“Give a loaf of bread yourself; someone else can give a cup of wine, and another can give clothes. In this way one man’s property is relieved by your joint effort.” — St. Gregory of Nyssa

“The rich take what belongs to everyone, and claim they have the right to own it, to monopolize it. — St. Basil the Great

“I am criticized often for my continual attacks upon the rich. Yes: because the rich continually attack the poor.” — St. John Chrysostom

“Tell me then, how is it that you are rich? From whom did you receive it, and from whom did he transmit it to you? From his father and his grandfather. But can you, ascending through many generations, show the acquisition just? It cannot be. The root and origin of it must have been injustice. Why? Because God in the beginning did not make one person rich and another poor. He left the earth free to all alike. Why then if it is common, have you so many acres of land, while your neighbor has not a portion of it?” – St. John Chrysostom

“You have a thousand excuses for robbing your brother. ‘His house stands in my light,’ you say; or, ‘Only tramps go there.” You force them to move.” — St. John Chrysostom

“It is not because the affluent are unable to provide food easily that men go hungry; it is because the affluent are cruel and inhuman. . . Every day the church here feeds 3000 people. Besides this, the church daily helps provide food and clothes for prisoners, the hospitalized, pilgrims, cripples, churchmen, and others. If only ten people were willing to do this, there would not be a single poor man left in town.” — St. John Chrysostom

“Those who oppress the poor must know that their sentence is heavier because of those they try to hurt. The more they press their power over these wretched lives, the more terrible their future condemnation and punishment will be.” — St. Isidore

“Some think that the Old Testament is stricter than the New, but they judge wrongly; they are fooling themselves. The old law did not punish the desire to hold on to wealth; it punished theft. But now the rich man is not condemned for taking the property of others; rather, he is condemned for not giving his own property away.” — St. Gregory the Great

“What keeps you from giving now? Is not the poor man there? Are not your own warehouses full? Is not reward promised? The command is clear: the hungry man is dying now, the naked man is freezing now, the man in debt is beaten now — and you want to wait until tomorrow? ‘I am now doing any harm,’ you say. “I just want to keep what I own, that is all.’ Your own! . . . You are like someone who sits down in a theater and keeps everyone else away, saying that what is there for everyone’s use is his own. . . if everyone took only what he needed and gave the rest to those in need, there would be no such thing as rich or poor. After all, did not you come into life naked; and will not you return naked to the earth?” — St. Basil the Great

“The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.” – St. Basil the Great

“Give a loaf of bread yourself, someone else can give a cup of wine, and another can give clothes. In this way one man’s poverty is relieved by your joint effort.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa

“Who is the greedy man? One for whom plenty does not suffice. Who defrauds others? One who keeps for himself what belongs to everyone. Are not you greedy, do not you defraud, when you keep for yourself what was given for giving away? When someone steals a man’s clothes we call him a thief. Should not we give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not?” — St. Basil the Great

“The bread which the rich eat belongs to others more than to them. They live on stolen goods. What they pay comes from what they have seized. . . You have gold dug up from the mines, only to re-bury it. And how many lives are buried with it! And this wealth is kept for whom? For your heir, who waits idly to receive it . . . It is not the poor who are cursed, but the rich. Scripture says of the rich, not of the poor, that the man who increases the price of corn will be cursed . . . Who is the wise man? The one who shows compassion to the poor, who sees the poor as natural members of his family.” — St. Ambrose of Milan

“It is the poor who mine gold, though they are denied gold; they are forced to work for what they cannot keep.” — St. Ambrose of Milan

“Wealth, which leads men the wrong way so often, is seen less for its own qualities than for the human misery it stands for. The large rooms of which you are so proud are in fact your shame. They are big enough to hold crowds — and also big enough to shut out the voice of the poor. True, even if the voice were heard it would be ignored. . . The poor man cries before your house, and you pay no attention. There is your brother, naked and crying! And you stand confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.” — St. Ambrose of Milan

“You have the power to save so many from death, but you do not care to do so — and the price of the ring on your hand could save the lives of a multitude!” — St. Ambrose of Milan

“Property is theft.” — St. Basil the Great

“The Lord ate from a common bowl, and asked the disciples to sit on the grass. He washed their feet, with a towel wrapped around his waist — He, who is the Lord of the universe! He drank water from a jug of earthenware, with the Samaritan woman. Christ made use his aim, not extravagance.” — St. Clement of Alexandria

“The price of the kingdom is the food you give to those who need it.” — St. Leo the Great

“Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead.” — St. John Chrysostom

“Every family should have a room where Christ is welcomed in the person of the hungry and thirsty stranger.” — St. John Chrysostom

“Property, the more common it is, the more holy it is.” — St. Gertrude

“When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.” — Rev. John Ball

“Yes, they do not bear their sword in vain, they rob and oppress the poor working people.” – Peter Chelcicky

“The estate of the ruling class which conducts defensive warfare, kills, burns, and hangs; the estate of the common and higher priests who pray; and the estate of the common peasants who must slave and feed the two upper-class insatiable Baals.

Behold the first Baal, fat and proliferated: the temporal lords.  Behold the second Baal, also fat and proliferated: the spiritual lords.  Both Baals suck the labor of the earth, the blood, and the sweat of the third class that, drenched with sweat, fills the fleshpots of the two Baals.” — Peter Chelcicky

“the poor man hath title to the rich man’s goods; so that the rich man ought to let the poor man have part of his riches to help and to comfort him withal.” – Hugh Latimer

“England is not a free people, till the poor that have no land, have a free allowance to dig and labor the commons.” — Gerrard Winstanley

“The earth was not made purposely for you, to be Lords of it, and we to be your Slaves, Servants, and Beggers; but it was made to be a common Livelihood to all, without respect of persons: And that your buying and selling of Land, and the Fruits of it, one to another, is The cursed thing, and was brought in by War.” — Gerrard Winstanley

“Wage labour, though it appears to be an inevitable step in the evolution of society, is as little fitted to represent finally or adequately the connection of man with man in the production of wealth as in earlier times slavery or serfdom.” – Bishop B.F. Westcott

“The early church was communist in the broadest sense: Christians did not believe in exclusive ownership of property. They owned all things in common; the poor received what they needed from the common holdings.” – Fr. David Kirk

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