While WLC continues to uphold the observance of the Seventh-Day Sabbath, which is at the heart of Yahuwah's moral law, the 10 Commandments, we no longer believe that the annual feast days are binding upon believers today. Still, though, we humbly encourage all to set time aside to commemorate the yearly feasts with solemnity and joy, and to learn from Yahuwah’s instructions concerning their observance under the Old Covenant. Doing so will surely be a blessing to you and your home, as you study the wonderful types and shadows that point to the exaltation of Messiah Yahushua as the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Lamb of Yahuwah that takes away the sins of the world.
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Almsgiving, the Redemption of Sins, and Discipleship in the Gospel of Luke

The King James Version (KJV) is mostly used in these lessons. Click here to access the KJV online.
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In returning to the opening passage of this paper, Luke 3, John the Baptist’s instruction to the crowds coming to him for the baptism of repentance describes one concrete practice that leads to salvation and the redemption of one’s sins: almsgiving. John the Baptist’s recommendation of almsgiving for the atonement of one’s sins does not prove to be shocking considering the examination of Daniel 4 since Second Temple Judaism practices offer ways for understanding salvation through the mercy of G-d Yahuwah through specific activity like almsgiving. This focus on almsgiving in Luke’s Gospel is due to the Lukan focus on salvation and the requisite repentance and turning away from sin in concrete practices that is necessary for the Christian disciple. “In the wider context of Luke’s narratives, the human response to divine mercy can be best described as μετάνοια (ἐπιστρέφω). This is not an abstract concept but is expressed in transformative and practical ds in interpersonal relations, namely showing mercy and doing justice.”36 And as Anthony Giambrone notes, “Luke unoriginally envisions charity as an act of atoning repentance, somehow critical for fulfilling Israel’s covenantal destiny.”37

In the following discussion, I examine several key Lukan Gospel texts that argue the importance of almsgiving for the redemption of sins as a pathway towards discipleship in Christ.38 In particular, these texts underscore the role of almsgiving as a sign of repentance and a pathway of turning to Yahuwah and investing one’s faith in Yahuwah so that one can find salvation in Christ.39 To put it another way, “Almsgiving…represents a concrete manifestation of repentance (metanoia), so that to live a life of almsgiving, or to divest oneself and give to the poor in conjunction with following Yahushua, is a holistic participation in Yahuwah’s ways.”40 Indeed, almsgiving is not simply a practice of charitable giving for those in need of material goods but serves as a concrete sign of repentance for the almsgiver on the journey of salvation in Christ.

Before turning to specific Lukan texts that treat almsgiving, it is important briefly to link the Gospel of Luke with the sin-debt metaphor that is central to understanding Daniel 4 and the use of almsgiving as a practice of repentance. In Sacramental Charity, Creditor Christology, and the Economy of Salvation in Luke’s Gospel, Anthony Giambrone has argued that the Gospel of Luke maintains and utilizes the sin as debt understanding and that the Lukan Gospel develops an image of Christ as Israel’s creditor. The sin-debt metaphor can be found in an examination of the Our Father Prayer[which] shows human beings seeking Yahuwah’s forgiveness of sins and human beings seeking forgiveness of debts from others.41 In addition, Giambrone examines in detail the story of the sinful woman in the house of the Pharisee (Luke 7:36–50) such that Giambrone argues in a rather novel way that the story of the sinful woman represents Christ rewarding her charity (her generous love) by forgiving her sins.42 Similarly, MiJa Wi agrees that

[t]he parable in Lk. 7:36–50 juxtaposes the moneylender’s gracious act of cancelling debts (χαρίζομαι) with Jesus’ forgiving (ἀφίημι) sins. It sheds further light on the response which is described as tangible acts of love (ἀγαπάω). Hence Luke’s juxtaposition of ἄφεσις of sin and debt strengthens the mutual relationship of religious and economic matters while debt retains its financial meaning. All of these points elaborate the sin-debt metaphor with the Gospel of Luke.43

With an understanding of the sin-debt metaphor in the background of the Gospel of Luke, one then can see in Luke 11 a consideration of an almsgiving-repentance connection in Jesus’s encounter with the Pharisees.

Near the end of Luke 11, a Pharisee invites Yahushua to eat a meal at the house of the Pharisee.44 The Pharisee is scandalized that Yahushua did not perform the ritual washing prior to eating.45 Yahushua responds to the Pharisee’s sense of scandal: “The Lord said to him, ‘Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you’” (Luke 11:39–41).46 This response of Yahushua begins a series of chastising statements of Pharisaic behavior. Yahushua accuses the Pharisees of being concerned with cleaning the outside of the body (the outside of the cup and dish) by ritual washings but inside the body (in the heart of the person) there is greed (harpagēs) and evil.47 Yahushua calls the Pharisees fools or unwise (aphrones) for behaving in a way that ignores the fact that it is Yahuwah who made both the outside and the inside of the body and that there is a correlation between what is inside the person and what is outside the person. Having ritual exterior purity and interior sinfulness cannot be a coherent position for someone who understands Yahuwah who makes all things. Yahushua addressed this incoherency earlier in the Lukan Gospel during the Sermon on the Plain.

In the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:43–45, Yahushua says, “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”48 Bovon notes that sin “springs up from inside.”49 In using this terminology, Jesus explains that the exteriority of the body does not produce the evil; rather the evil is stored inside the person and then produces such evil fruits with the exterior of the body. So ritual purity or impurity would not coincide with interior purity. How, then, does one make pure the interiority of the body if it is impure or evil?

Returning to the end of Luke 11 with Jesus’s eating with the Pharisee, verse 41 provides Jesus’s answer for rectifying the interior impurity of the Pharisees. They are told to “give alms (eleēmosynēn)” and “everything will be clean for you.” One should note the initiative required here on the part of the Pharisees to be made clean in their hearts from the greed and evil that exist there. Yahushua instructs the Pharisees to give alms and through giving alms, “everything” will be made clean, both the interior and the exterior of the body. In this encounter, almsgiving acts as a concrete practice of repentance for those seeking interior purity. “It would be a mistake, however, to see this [almsgiving] as emphasizing exterior works over inner faith. That would only reinforce the bifurcation of inner and outer. Almsgiving is a representation of the whole self. One’s actions are part of one’s being, so that almsgiving embodies one’s existence, not simply exterior works.”50 By giving alms as Yahushua instructed, the Pharisees produce good fruit by this act of repentance for the sin-debt they have accrued, and thereby they are made clean.

This lesson was taken from a non-WLC article written by James W. Stroud (Journal of Moral Theology, Vol. 10, Special Issue 1 (2021): 84–103).

We have taken out from the original article all pagan names and titles of the Father and Son, and have replaced them with the original given names. Furthermore, we have restored in the Scriptures quoted the names of the Father and Son, as they were originally written by the inspired authors of the Bible. -WLC Team

WLC Source:
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