Material wealth does not always indicate God’s blessing, and poverty is not always a sign of God’s disapproval. This topic is worth discussing since there are differing views on the economic class of Jesus. What many people want to know is, was Jesus poor?
The Bible suggests that Jesus was poor on earth. 2nd Corinthians 8:9 indicates that though Jesus was rich in heaven, he had to leave all that behind to become poor on earth. The Bible also implies that Jesus was poor since he did not have material possessions or even a home, as explained in Luke 9:58. He rejected worldly riches so that he could identify with those in need.
What was the economic status of Mary and Joseph? Did Jesus have material possessions? These are some of the questions that this article will cover. By the end of it, one can also learn whether Jesus came from a poor region in Roman society. Read on to find out more!
What was the economic status of Mary and Joseph?
Jesus was born into a poor family since Mary and Joseph did not have material possessions. The Bible suggests that even though Jesus owns everything, he left his riches in heaven and was born poor. The Bible suggests that Mary and Joseph, his parents, were among the poorest people in Roman society. This is because when they presented Jesus in the temple, they offered a sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, as explained in Luke 2:24.
Such offering was only associated with the low economic class in Palestine. Mary and Joseph did not bring a lamb since they could not afford one. Leviticus 12:6 says, And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest.
Additionally, Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 8:9 that Jesus had to leave behind his eternal riches and take the nature of a humble, lowly servant. This verse says For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor so that you by his poverty might become rich. This shows that Jesus was born to poor parents.
The Bible speculates that Jesus chose poor parents so that he could identify with the less fortunate in society. Some Biblical scholars believe that Jesus still had the option of selecting wealthy parents. And if he had done so, they would have supported his ministry. But the book of Luke 8:1-3 shows that his disciples and some women supported his ministry.
Did Jesus have any material possessions?
According to the Bible, Jesus’ earthly possessions amounted to the clothes on his back which the soldiers divided when they crucified him. John 19:23 mentions that Jesus wore a tunic.
The scripture also suggests that Jesus was poor on earth, and he had to take the nature of a humble and lowly servant, as explained in Zechariah 9:9.
The Bible also implies that Jesus did not have permanent shelter, which is a basic necessity that everyone needs. This is proof that he was poor. He himself said in Luke 9:58 that Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. Jesus rejected worldly riches and compelled his disciples to emulate a similar lifestyle. Luke 9:23 says, And he said to all if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
During the Passover last supper, Jesus and his disciples had to borrow a room for this, as explained in Matthew 26:18. This verse says, He replied, Go into the city to a certain man and tell him the teacher says, my appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.
Though the Bible reveals that Jesus was not wealthy, it suggests that he had wealthy friends, as explained in John 12:1-3. This shows that Jesus interacted with both the rich and the poor. Jesus did not care much about material possession. He even taught his followers that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23) since the rich often trust their wealth and pull away from God.
Jesus also told his followers not to work for treasures of the earth in Matthew 6:19-20. This verse says, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Some prosperity preachers like preaching that Jesus was rich on earth, but the Bible disagrees with this. They teach this to show their flock that God wants them to be rich. The Bible suggests that such preaching is inaccurate, and Paul even addressed it in Romans 16:7-18. These verses say I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people.
Did Jesus come from a poor region of the Roman society?
The Bible suggests that Jesus was among the poorest individuals in Roman society, and he came from a poor region. Though Luke and Matthew explain that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was a Galilean from a village called Nazareth, which was near Sepphoris.
During that time, the measures of sustainability were the minimum amount of clothing, shelter, and food needed to support life. The poorest people in Roman society had to work every day to meet their basic needs.
In Roman society, the wealthiest people were senators’ families and imperial dynasties. Provincial officials and military officers were also among the wealthy in Roman society. Then there was the middle class which comprised most veterans, merchants, and traders. These were near the minimum level to sustain life.
Laborers and small farm families were considered not very wealthy or very poor. The Palestinian Jewish farmers earned just enough to pay their taxes, offer sacrifice during annual festivals and support their families.
The last economic class belonged to the poor, and it comprised widows, beggars, orphans, and the disabled. Many people believe that Jesus belonged to this class of the poorest people in Roman society. This is because he is often described as associating with such individuals in the Bible.
For instance, in Luke 7:11-17, Jesus raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain and returned him to his mother. Jesus also healed the physically impaired who lay by the pool of Bethsaida, as explained in John 5:14. His followers, Peter and John, also healed a lame beggar while they were going to pray in the temple. This is explained in Acts 3. Such stories indicate that Jesus came from a poor region of Roman society since only in such regions would one find beggars, widows, the disabled, and those who lacked basic needs like food and clothing.
The Bible suggests that Jesus identified closely with the poorest people in society. He said that if his followers rejected such people, they were rejecting him. Matthew 25:45 says I tell you the truth when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.
Since Jesus cared about the well-being of the poor, he even preached that the rich should sell their possessions and give to the poor. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus shared a parable of Lazarus and the rich man where he explained that the rich man went to hell despite his riches since he did not take care of the needs of Lazarus, who was poor. On the other hand, Lazarus went to heaven.
- Concern for the poor (Luke 6:17-26, 16:19-31)
- Was Jesus rich/ wealthy?
- What does the Bible say about being poor?
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.