Contrary to those who claim that the Bible teaches that material inequality should be redressed by the State, Scripture explicitly prohibits showing bias or partiality in matters of justice to anyone, including the poor. For example, Lev. 19:15 states: “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Showing partiality to the poor is described as a perversion of justice. Exo. 23:3 states that favoritism should not be shown to a poor man even in a lawsuit. There was also no partially when Moses took a census and God required an offering of half a shekel from everyone over the age of twenty years (Exo. 30:14-15). The rich were explicitly forbidden from giving more, and the poor were explicitly prohibited from giving less. The poor did not expect material favoritism from God. What the poor expected was fair dealings from merchants when selling their produce (Amos 2:6-7). In 1 Pet. 1:17, Peter states that God the Father judges each person’s work impartially. In Gal. 3:28, Paul makes it clear that in Christ there is no racial, social or sexual discrimination or favoritism. All people stand equal before God. Similarly, in a church setting, James 2:1-9 warns not to show favoritism. Furthermore, Paul instructed Timothy not to do anything out of favoritism in regard to the handling of the conduct and character of church elders (1 Tim. 5:21).
Luke 4:16-21 is claimed to be Jesus’ manifesto for the “Good News” being especially for the poor, the blind and the captives. But these words are a quotation of a Messianic prophecy in Isa. 61:1-2 and 58:6. The Messiah is to proclaim the good news to the poor. The good news is salvation, not any form of ‘social justice.’ The “poor” are the spiritually poor. The “blind” are the spiritually blind. The “captives” are those that are spiritually captive. The “year of the Lord’s favor,” is not an indication of favoritism but of blessing, and, in light of the allusion to the year of Jubilee, of salvation, in that slaves would have been freed.
Jesus associated with wealthy individuals on several occasions. He dined with the wealthy chief tax collector, Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), and declared that he had come to “seek and to save the lost” regardless of whether they were rich or poor. He also raised the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue ruler (Mark 5:22-43). Jesus’ response to these men was very different to that which he gave to the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-25), which indicates that his response to the rich young ruler was specific to that individual and his spiritual condition not a general condemnation of wealth.
- Andrew S. Kulikovsky, Justice and the Bible 11, at http://hermeneutics.kulikovskyonline.net/hermeneutics/JusticeAndBible.pdf.