Poverty And Wealth In The Rest Of The New Testament

In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the early followers of Christ in Jerusalem sharing their property in common: “they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2,45). It is not known how long this practice lasted, but at a later point Paul’s letters make clear that he is collecting donations from Gentile churches for the poorer Christians in Jerusalem.

The letter of James goes further, portraying an equalisation of rich and poor: “Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field” (James 1, 9-10).  James asks “Is it not the rich who oppress you?” (James 2, 6) and says God has heard the cries of workers whose pay has been withheld (James 5, 5).

Much of the symbolism in the book of Revelation is widely seen as an attack on the Roman Empire, and on the rich and powerful who profited from it: “the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury” (Revelation 18, 3).