The attitude of a poor person to the benefactor and his gift in the teaching of the ancient Church (1st-3rd century)


The article deals with the problem of the responsibility of a poor person for the received gift. Analysis of selected writings of Christian antiquity reveals that every poor person who asks the rich for assistance is responsible to God for the received gift. All those who appeal to the benevolence of the rich and extort their help will answer at God’s judgment. In turn a poor person who is in real need is God’s altar. The alms given to the poor are a sacrifice that the rich offer on the altar of God himself. This confers a supernatural dimension upon alms. Moreover, between the benefactor and the recipient the relation of a reciprocal exchange of goods is established. The poor person who is supported with material goods by a rich person reciprocates with spiritual gifts: intercessory prayer and gratitude that continue even after the benefactor’s death. Thus, the rich person who receives the spiritual gifts benefits more than the poor person because in return for perish­able material goods he is given eternal life.


I-III century; ancient Church; poor people

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Published : 2012-06-15

Wygralak, P. (2012). The attitude of a poor person to the benefactor and his gift in the teaching of the ancient Church (1st-3rd century). Vox Patrum, 57, 763-772.

Paweł Wygralak 
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu  Poland

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