Poverty and Prosperity

Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20

But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Luke 6:24

But the Lord said, No servant can serve two masters. If we desire to serve both God and mammon, it is unprofitable for us: For what advantage is it, if a man gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Now this age and the future are two enemies. The one speaks of adultery and defilement and avarice and deceit, but the other bids farewell to these. We cannot therefore be friends of the two, but must bid farewell to the one and hold companionship with the other. Let us consider that it is better to hate the things which are here, because they are mean and for a short time and perishable, and to love the things which are there, for they are good and imperishable. For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments. Second Clement (A.D. 100) ch.6

Therefore let not the godly be grieved, if he be miserable in the times that now are: a blessed time awaits him. He shall live again in heaven with the fathers, and shall have rejoicing throughout a sorrowless eternity. Neither suffer you this again to trouble your mind, that we see the unrighteous possessing wealth, and the servants of God straitened. Let us then have faith, brothers and sisters. We are contending in the lists of a living God; and we are trained by the present life, that we may be crowned with the future. Second Clement (A.D. 100) ch.20

"These are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation comes, they deny their Lord by reason of their riches and their business affairs." And I answered and said unto her, "When then, lady, will they be useful for the building?" "When," she replied, "their wealth, which leads their souls astray, shall be cut away, then will they be useful for God. For just as the round stone, unless it be cut away, and lose some portion of itself, cannot become square, so also they that are rich in this world, unless their riches be cut away, cannot become useful to the Lord. Learn first from yourself when you had riches, you were useless; but now you are useful and profitable unto life." Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 14

Have regard one to another, and assist one another, and do not partake of the creatures of God alone in abundance, but share them also with those that are in want. For some men through their much eating bring weakness on the flesh, and injure their flesh: whereas the flesh of those who have naught to eat is injured by their not having sufficient nourishment, and their body is ruined. This exclusiveness therefore is hurtful to you that have and do not share with them that are in want. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.16

Those who have never investigated concerning the truth, nor enquired concerning the deity, but have merely believed, and have been mixed up in business affairs and riches and heathen friendships, and many other affairs of this world - as many, I say, as devote themselves to these things, comprehend not the parables of the deity; for they are darkened by these actions, and are corrupted and become barren. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 26

He said to me; "You know that you, who are the servants of God, are dwelling in a foreign land; for your city is far from this city. If then you know your city, in which you shall dwell, why do you here prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwelling-chambers which are superfluous?
He, therefore, that prepares these things for this city does not purpose to return to his own city.
O foolish and double-minded and miserable man, do you not perceive that all these things are foreign, and are under the power of another?" Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.30

Therefore, instead of fields buy you souls that are in trouble, as each is able, and visit widows and orphans, and neglect them not; and spend your riches and all your displays, which you received from God, on fields and houses of this kind. For to this end the Master enriched you, that you might perform these ministrations for Him. It is much better to purchase fields [and possessions] and houses of this kind, which you will find in your own city, when you visit it. This lavish expenditure is beautiful and joyous, not bringing sadness or fear, but bringing joy. The expenditure of the heathen then practice not you; for it is not convenient for you the servants of God. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 30

The rich man has much wealth, but in the things of the Lord he is poor, being distracted about his riches, and his confession and intercession with the Lord is very scanty; and even that which he gives is small and weak and has not power above… The rich man then supplies all things to the poor man without wavering. But the poor man being supplied by the rich makes intercession for him, thanking God for him that gave to him. And the other is still more zealous to assist the poor man, that he may be continuous in his life: for he knows that the intercession of the poor man is acceptable and rich before God. And this work great and acceptable with God, because (the rich man) has understanding concerning his riches, and works for the poor man from the bounties of the Lord, and accomplishes the ministration of the Lord rightly. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.32

These are men who have been believers, but grew rich and became renowned among the Gentiles. They clothed themselves with great pride and became high-minded, and abandoned the truth and did not cleave to the righteous, but lived together after the manner of the Gentiles. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 42

Some of them are wealthy and others are entangled in many business affairs. The briars are the wealthy, and the thorns are they that are mixed up in various business affairs. These [then, that are mixed up in many and various business affairs,] cleave [not] to the servants of God, but go astray, being choked by their affairs, but the wealthy unwillingly cleave to the servants of God, fearing lest they may be asked for something by them. Such men therefore shall hardly enter into the kingdom of God. For as it is difficult to walk on briars with bare feet, so also it is difficult for such men to enter the kingdom of God. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.50

Now hear wherefore they have been found round. Their riches have darkened and obscured them a little from the truth. When therefore the Lord perceived their mind, that they could favor the truth, and likewise remain good, He commanded their possessions to be cut off from them, yet not to be taken away altogether, so that they might be able to do some good with that which has been left to them, and might live unto God for that they come of a good kind. Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 53

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 (2nd century) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.9 pg.277

For God has given to us, I know well, the liberty of use, but only so far as necessary; and He has determined that the use should be common. And it is monstrous for one to live in luxury, while many are in want. How much more glorious is it to do good to many, than to live sumptuously! How much wiser to spend money on human being, than on jewels and gold! Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.268

Love of wealth displaces a man from the right mode of life, and induces him to cease from feeling shame at what is shameful… For what end, then, are such dainty dishes prepared, but to fill one belly? The filthiness of gluttony is proved by the sewers into which our bellies discharge the refuse of our food. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.280

Accordingly he has not forbidden us to be rich in the right way, but only a wrongful and insatiable grasping of money… For he who sows and gathers more is the man who by giving away his earthly and temporal goods has obtained a heavenly and eternal prize; the other is he who gives to no one, but vainly "lays up treasure on earth where moth and rust corrupt"; of him it is written: "In gathering motley, he has gathered it into a condemned cell." Of his land the Lord says in the gospel that it produced plentifully; then wishing to store the fruits he built larger store-houses, saying to himself in the words dramatically put into his mouth "You have many good things laid up for many years to come, eat, drink, and be merry. You fool," says the Lord, "this night your soul shall be required of you. Whose then shall be the things you have prepared?" Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Miscellanies, book III ch.6

So also let not the man that has been invested with worldly wealth proclaim himself excluded at the outset from the Savior’s lists, provided he is a believer and one who contemplates the greatness of God's philanthropy; nor let him, on the other hand, expect to grasp the crowns of immortality without struggle and effort, continuing untrained, and without struggle and effort. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.592

For if no one had anything, what room would be left among men for giving? … He so praises the use of property as to command, along with this addition, the giving a share of it, to give drink to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, to take the houseless in, and clothe the naked... Riches, then, which benefit also our neighbors, are not to be thrown away… So let no man destroy wealth, rather than the passions of the soul, which are incompatible with the better use of wealth. So that, becoming virtuous and good, he may be able to make a good use of these riches. The renunciation, then, and selling of all possessions, is to be understood as spoken of the passions of the soul. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.594-595

Abandon the alien possessions that are in your soul, that, becoming pure in heart, you may see God; which is another way of saying, Enter into the kingdom of heaven. And how may you abandon them? By selling them…It is thus that you dost rightly sell the possessions, many are superfluous, which shut the heavens against you by exchanging them for those which are able to save. Let the former be possessed by the carnal poor, who are destitute of the latter. But you, by receiving instead spiritual wealth, shall have now treasure in the heavens… For it was difficult for the soul not to be seduced and ruined by the luxuries and flowery enchantments that beset remarkable wealth. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.596

But I think that our proposition has been demonstrated in no way inferior to what we promised, that the Savior by no means has excluded the rich on account of wealth itself, and the possession of property, nor fenced off salvation against them; if they are able and willing to submit their life to God's commandments. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.598

A rich man is a difficult thing (to find) in the house of God; and if such an one is (found there), difficult (is it to find such) unmarried. What, then, are they to do?... To a Christian believer it is irksome to wed a believer inferior to herself in estate, destined as she will be to have her wealth augmented in the person of a poor husband! For if it is "the poor," not the rich, "whose are the kingdoms of the heavens," the rich will find more in the poor (than she brings him, or than she would in the rich). She will be dowered with an ampler dowry from the goods of him who is rich in God. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 48


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