A Christian View of World Poverty - Paul vs James

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There are arguments linking Paul’s missionary work in Corinth, with the church in Jerusalem. The argument is attributed to F. C. Baur theses, according to the Baur, Paul’s missionary rival took the authority of peter, and they claim they had been commissioning to shepherd the church of Christ in Corinth, Baur and other argumentations propose that indeed the ‘the supper apostles’ had been sent by peter, in fact, these people produce evidence. Evidence that has been collected from scholars analyzing Paul’s missionary work the tag name, supper apostles are an ironic reference of missionaries who arrive in Corinth spreading parallel gospel, these fake apostles claim to be preaching another spirit, another Jesus and different gospel. (Blanton, 2007),

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One pertinent issue to understand is that, whether the missionaries in Corinth speak contradictory message that of Paul. According to Blanton, Paul’s rivals in Corinthians are the ones that Paul encountered in Galatians; the opposition was the representatives of Petrine wing of early Christianity. These people went contrary to Paul on the question whether Christians should follow teachings of Torah. (Blanton,2007),

In Corinth, Paul encounter resistance from people who claim to preach another gospel, however, many scholars have tried to analyze these people if they represented the church of Jerusalem, and indeed they had been sent by peter. In the book of second Corinthians we find Paul trying to pursued Christians to accept his teachings, Paul defends himself against claims that he lacks sufficiency to carry on to completion the ministry of Jesus. Paul admits in 2nd Corinthians chapter four that he preaches “veiled message” but he is quick to defend himself that he had falsified the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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Those opposing Paul’s missionary work claim that Paul may have misadvised Christians, on the strict observance of Torah teachings. Paul offered himself as a perfect example of when he urges Corinthians to work hard to earn their living. Paul chose to work in trade, to support him rather than depending on other Christians. Paul may have differed with James regarding this statement. James argue that poor are rich in faith, and rich are the persecutors, there is only one social distinction in Christian fraternity, James argue that people can be poor in physical property but can afford to live comfortable live, generous treatment of hosts is important. (Countryman,2003),


James: What is the nature of Paul’s opposition in Corinth?

Respondent: Paul’s challenges in his ministerial work in Corinth theological understood texts that Paul wrote to Corinthians, in Corinth other people who Paul sarcastically calls them ‘supper apostles’ have infiltrated their teachings into the communities of Corinth.

James: What are the main teachings of these perceived “supper apostles’, what are the main tenets of their teaching?

Respondent: These supper apostles claim to preach new spirit, different gospel. There has been a suggestion from scholars claiming that these apostles were sent by peter in the in Jerusalem, however, there are no evidence to support this point of view.

James: How do these apostles differ with Paul’s teaching?

Respondent:  These divergent apostles criticize Paul that he preaches veiled message, Paul defends himself arguing that he has been sent to claim his work, and he is not teaching a contrary message.

James: Did Paul falsify the gospel of Christ?

Respondent: Paul may have gone contrary to the teachings of Torah and tailor his teachings to fit to the circumstances and realities of people of Corinth. People of Corinth were poor, and Paul had to have a message that fits to their context. The apostles proclaim to have been sent from Jerusalem by Peter advice in strict observance of Law of Moses (Torah).

James: What are the teachings of Paul in Corinth concerning poverty, work and economic activity?

Respondent:  Paul’s teaching emphasizes the importance of work. He encourages Corinthians to work hard to earn their living, he says no man should depend on another, instead should work hard to earn for himself and his family. Paul offers his example that engages in trade to aid himself.

James: What are the teachings of James concern the subject of poverty, work and economic activities?

Respondent:  James teaching is somewhat different, to that of Paul; James maintains that a church going Christian should not even be thinking about clothes, James says church going Christian should not be a concern with how well, or poor a person has dressed. He seem to emphasize that Christians should not indulge in material teachings, he is possessed by the idea that God provides.

James: Is Christian teaching promoting poverty among its followers?

Respondent: There are many misconceptions about Christianity and poverty. Paul’s advice to Christians to work and earn. Much interpretation of texts of Paul in the letter to Corinth has been formulated on Christian living and attitude towards work.

James: What was the context of Christians in Corinth that motivated Paul to write them poverty and work?

Respondent: Many Christians in Corinth may have been living in abject poverty. They might have been holding the idea that it is better to be poor in terms of physical property and have eternal living. They maintain literary interpretation of the scriptures; Paul was compelled to write them to encourage them to work and support themselves.

James: What are the teachings of Paul and James concerning helping the poor in the society?

Respondent: James holds some divergent views concerning assisting the poor, he does not emphasize much on riches but he argues that is sharing is important. Through this,  we derive happiness. According to Paul everybody should work hard to earn for himself. He does not encourage borrowing among Christians; Paul’s attitude is setting an example to rest, and a good example cannot be set through begging. According to Paul, Christians should work had to have what is enough for them and have surplus to give to the poor.

James: Does James teachings promote poverty?

Respondent:  James teachings may compel some Christians to view poor remain sinless. Teachings can be taken literary.

Discussion on above interview

The above interview emphasizes on the teachings of Paul and James concern pertinent issues of poverty among Christian. It analyzes the ideas of great apostles and their position about riches, this interview tries to answer the question whether Christianity discourages sharing in the society. According to the interview, Paul is supporting the idea of sharing but emphasizes on working to earn than to over indulge in begging. Paul encourages working so that one would have enough to share with non Christians.

James on the other hand stress on Christian sharing  but discourages too much riches, he views riches as an obstacle of reaching eternal living. He seems to associate riches with temptation.

Van Till, analyses Christian teachings about sharing in the society, according to him, God created all the things that are found on earth, he created the nature- trees, water, seas, animals and all creatures in water and land.  He allowed the productivity of land; it bore fruits of all kinds. Man was created in Gods likeness and bestowed with responsibility of guarding the nature. God commanded man to develop land to its potentiality. The use of world resources and maintaining it to high productivity was Gods desire for a human being. This creates concept and attitude of God towards work. God wants human beings to embrace work and earn their living. God do not intend any man to remain poor, no one with perfect physical ability should borrow.(Van Til,2007)

At the heart of Christian belief on wealth, poverty and ownership of the property, there is a belief that all property come from God. It is God’s will that all his people receive their daily needs , especially weakest. Sharing what we have is paramount according to Gods judgment. To  people of Israel, those who were weakest and vulnerable for instance widows, orphans and aliens receive their daily requirements. People shared their land produce with these disadvantaged; the act of sharing is Gods intention to humanity. (Van Til,2007)

There are no scriptures that teach against sharing with poor, Paul and James teaching has been understood wrongly or either has been interpreted literary. Paul main concept was that Christians should not be borrow instead they should work had to earn and have more to share. James statements, though looking contradictory to Paul’s ideas warn Christian on over emphasizing on the wealth and riches. This could compromise their Christian living.

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