No Work – No Food?
Who doesn’t work should not eat is a popular misinterpretation of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians to justify the own unwillingness to share the necessities of life with one’s neighbors. However, the bible could not be clearer proclaiming the contrary.
Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” John 3.11
Paul does not devise a social services policy for the city of Thessaloniki, but he condemns exploitation. In contrast to the demands of Greco-Roman culture that would compell an apostle and teacher like Paul to exploit the hospitality of his hosts as a a visible sign of his social rank, he tries to establish a too “good even if you do not have to” ethic in the Christian community.
Many people in the Greco Roman world do not work. The poor do not work, because all the work they could do is done by slaves. And the rich do not work because they don’t have to. However, letting money work for you is against the biblical prohibition to charge interest.
Sermon, Rev. Olaf Baumann, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Port Angeles WA, 11/13/2016